The orcokinins are a family of neuropeptides recently isolated from several crustacean species. We found orcokinin-like immunoreactivity in the stomatogastric nervous systems and pericardial organs of three decapod crustacean species, Homarus americanus, Cancer borealis, and Panulirus interruptus. The neuropil of the stomatogastric ganglion was stained in adults of all three species as well as in embryonic and larval H. americanus. In H. americanus, the somata giving rise to this projection were found in the inferior ventricular nerve. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry mass profiling and sequencing with postsource decay led to the identification of six different orcokinin family peptides, including those previously described in other decapods and two novel shorter peptides. Application of exogenous [Ala(13)]orcokinin to the stomatogastric ganglion of H. americanus resulted in changes in the pyloric rhythm. Specifically, the number of lateral pyloric (LP) neuron spikes/burst decreased, and the phase of firing of the pyloric neurons was altered. Together, these data indicate that the orcokinins are likely to function as modulators of the crustacean stomatogastric ganglion.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.