Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP), a novel peptide of the secretin/glucagon/vasoactive intestinal polypeptide superfamily, has been initially characterized in mammals in 1989 and, only 2 years later, its counterpart has been isolated in amphibians. A number of studies conducted in the frog Rana ridibunda have demonstrated that PACAP is widely distributed in the central nervous system (particularly in the hypothalamus and the median eminence) and in peripheral organs including the adrenal gland. The cDNAs encoding the PACAP precursor and 3 types of PACAP receptors have been cloned in amphibians and their distribution has been determined by in situ hybridization histochemistry. Ontogenetic studies have revealed that PACAP is expressed early in the brain of tadpoles, soon after hatching. In the frog Rana ridibunda, PACAP exerts a large array of biological effects in the brain, pituitary, adrenal gland, and ovary, suggesting that, in amphibians as in mammals, PACAP may act as neurotrophic factor, a neurotransmitter and a neurohormone.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.