Neuropeptide Gene Families in the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegansa


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    C. Li and A. Hart contributed equally to this article. All correspondence regarding flp genes should be directed to C. Li ( Correspondence regarding nlp genes should be directed to A. Hart (

Address for correspondence: MGH Cancer Center, 149-7202 13th Street, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129. (617) 726-5618 (voice); (617) 726-5637 (fax).


Abstract: Neuropeptides have diverse roles in the function and development of the nervous system. With the completion of the sequencing of the C. elegans genome, rapid identification of nematode neuropeptide genes is possible. To date, 41 C. elegans neuropeptide genes have been identified. Of these genes, 20 genes, named flp (FMRFamide-like peptide) genes, encode FMRFamide-related proteins (FaRPs). Deletion of one of the flp genes, flp-1, results in several behavioral defects, suggesting that at least one flp gene is not functionally redundant with other flp genes. Twenty-one genes, named neuropeptide-like protein (nlp) genes, encode peptides distinct from the FaRP family. The predicted nlp-1 and nlp-2 neuropeptides have modest similarity to buccalin and myomodulin, respectively. Cellular expression patterns and genetic analysis of flp and nlp genes suggest that neuropeptides in nematodes also have widespead and varied roles in nervous system function.