Endogenous neuropeptides, acting as neurotransmitters or hormones in the brain, carry out important functions including neural plasticity, metabolism and angiogenesis. Previous neuropeptide studies have focused on peptide-rich brain regions such as the striatum or hypothalamus. Here we present an investigation of peptides in the visual system, composed of brain regions that are generally less rich in peptides, with the aim of providing the first broad overview of peptides involved in mammalian visual functions. We target three important parts of the visual system: the primary visual cortex (V1), lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) and superior colliculus (SC). Our study is performed in the tree shrew, a close relative of primates. Using a combination of data dependent acquisition and targeted LC-MS/MS based neuropeptidomics; we identified a total of 52 peptides from the tree shrew visual system. A total of 26 peptides, for example GAV and neuropeptide K were identified in the visual system for the first time. Out of the total 52 peptides, 27 peptides with high signal-to-noise-ratio (>10) in extracted ion chromatograms (EIC) were subjected to label-free quantitation. We observed generally lower abundance of peptides in the LGN compared to V1 and SC. Consistently, a number of individual peptides showed high abundance in V1 (such as neuropeptide Y or somatostatin 28) and in SC (such as somatostatin 28 AA1-12). This study provides the first in-depth characterization of peptides in the mammalian visual system. These findings now permit the investigation of neuropeptide-regulated mechanisms of visual perception.
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