In crustaceans, circulating hormones influence many physiological processes. Two neuroendocrine organs, the sinus gland (SG) and the pericardial organ (PO), are the sources of many of these compounds. As a first step in determining the roles played by hemolymph-borne agents in the crab Cancer productus, we characterized the hormone complement of its SG and PO. We show via transmission electron microscopy that the nerve terminals making up each site possess dense-core and/or electron-lucent vesicles, suggesting diverse complements of bioactive molecules for both structures. By using immunohistochemistry, we show that small molecule transmitters, amines and peptides, are among the hormones present in these tissues, with many differentially distributed between the two sites (e.g., serotonin in the PO but not the SG). With several mass spectrometric (MS) methods, we identified many of the peptides responsible for the immunolabeling and surveyed the SG and PO for peptides for which no antibodies exist. By using MS, we characterized 39 known peptides [e.g., beta-pigment-dispersing hormone (beta-PDH), crustacean cardioactive peptide, and red pigment-concentrating hormone] and de novo sequenced 23 novel ones (e.g., a new beta-PDH isoform and the first B-type allatostatins identified from a non-insect species). Collectively, our results show that diverse and unique complements of hormones, including many previously unknown peptides, are present in the SG and PO of C. productus. Moreover, our study sets the stage for future biochemical and physiological studies of these molecules and ultimately the elucidation of the role(s) they play in hormonal control in C. productus.
Copyright (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.