Characterization of urotensin II, distribution of urotensin II, urotensin II-related peptide and UT receptor mRNAs in mouse: evidence of urotensin II at the neuromuscular junction

J Neurochem. 2008 Oct;107(2):361-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05624.x. Epub 2008 Aug 14.


Urotensin II (UII) and UII-related peptide (URP) are paralog neuropeptides whose existence and distribution in mouse have not yet been investigated. In this study, we showed by HPLC/RIA analysis that the UII-immunoreactive molecule in the mouse brain corresponds to a new UII(17) isoform. Moreover, calcium mobilization assays indicated that UII(17) and URP were equally potent in stimulating UII receptor (UT receptor). Quantitative RT-PCR and in situ hybridization analysis revealed that in the CNS UII and URP mRNAs were predominantly expressed in brainstem and spinal motoneurons. Besides, they were differentially expressed in the medial vestibular nucleus, locus coeruleus and the ventral medulla. In periphery, both mRNAs were expressed in skeletal muscle, testis, vagina, stomach, and gall bladder, whereas only URP mRNA could be detected in the seminal vesicle, heart, colon, and thymus. By contrast, the UT receptor mRNA was widely expressed, and notably, very high amounts of transcript occurred in skeletal muscle and prostate. In the biceps femoris muscle, UII-like immunoreactivity was shown to coexist with synaptophysin in muscle motor end plate regions. Altogether these results suggest that (i) UII and URP may have many redundant biological effects, especially at the neuromuscular junction; (ii) URP may more specifically participate to autonomic, cardiovascular and reproductive functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • CHO Cells
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism*
  • Peptide Hormones / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Radioimmunoassay / methods
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Synaptophysin / metabolism
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • Urotensins / chemistry
  • Urotensins / metabolism*


  • Peptide Hormones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Synaptophysin
  • Urotensins
  • urotensin II receptor, mouse
  • urotensin II-related peptide, mouse
  • urotensin II
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Calcium