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Analysis of nitric oxide-cyclic guanosine monophosphate signaling during metamorphosis of the nudibranch Phestilla sibogae Bergh (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia)


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SUMMARY The gas nitric oxide (NO), and in some cases its downstream second messenger, cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) function in different taxa to regulate the timing of life-history transitions. Increased taxonomic sampling is required to foster conclusions about the evolution and function of NO/cGMP signaling during life-history transitions. We report on the function and localization of NO and cGMP signaling during metamorphosis of the nudibranch Phestilla sibogae. Pharmacological manipulation of NO or cGMP production in larvae modulated responses to a natural settlement cue from the coral Porites compressa in a manner that suggest inhibitory function for NO/cGMP signaling. However, these treatments were not sufficient to induce metamorphosis in the absence of cue, a result unique to this animal. We show that induction of metamorphosis in response to the settlement cue is associated with a reduction in NO production. We documented the expression of putative NO synthase (NOS) and the production of cGMP during larval development and observed no larval cells in which NOS and cGMP were both detected. The production of cGMP in a bilaterally symmetrical group of cells fated to occupy the distal tip of rhinophores is correlated with competence to respond to the coral settlement cue. These results suggest that endogenous NO and cGMP are involved in modulating responses of P. sibogae to a natural settlement cue. We discuss these results with respect to habitat selection and larval ecology.

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