A multi-scale strategy for discovery of novel endogenous neuropeptides in the crustacean nervous system

J Proteomics. 2013 Oct 8;91:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2013.06.021. Epub 2013 Jun 24.


The conventional mass spectrometry (MS)-based strategy is often inadequate for the comprehensive characterization of various size neuropeptides without the assistance of genomic information. This study evaluated sequence coverage of different size neuropeptides in two crustacean species, blue crab Callinectes sapidus and Jonah crab Cancer borealis using conventional MS methodologies and revealed limitations to mid- and large-size peptide analysis. Herein we attempt to establish a multi-scale strategy for simultaneous and confident sequence elucidation of various sizes of peptides in the crustacean nervous system. Nine novel neuropeptides spanning a wide range of molecular weights (0.9-8.2kDa) were fully sequenced from a major neuroendocrine organ, the sinus gland of the spiny lobster Panulirus interruptus. These novel neuropeptides included seven allatostatin (A- and B-type) peptides, one crustacean hyperglycemic hormone precursor-related peptide, and one crustacean hyperglycemic hormone. Highly accurate multi-scale characterization of a collection of varied size neuropeptides was achieved by integrating traditional data-dependent tandem MS, improved bottom-up sequencing, multiple fragmentation technique-enabled top-down sequencing, chemical derivatization, and in silico homology search. Collectively, the ability to characterize a neuropeptidome with vastly differing molecule sizes from a neural tissue extract could find great utility in unraveling complex signaling peptide mixtures employed by other biological systems.

Biological significance: Mass spectrometry (MS)-based neuropeptidomics aims to completely characterize the neuropeptides in a target organism as an important first step toward a better understanding of the structure and function of these complex signaling molecules. Although liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) with data-dependent acquisition is a powerful tool in peptidomic research, it often lacks the capability for de novo sequencing of mid-size and large peptides due to inefficient fragmentation of peptides larger than 4kDa. This study describes a multi-scale strategy for complete and confident sequence elucidation of various sizes of neuropeptides in the crustacean nervous system. The aim is to fill a technical gap where the conventional strategy is inefficient for comprehensive characterization of a complex neuropeptidome without assistance of genomic information. Nine novel neuropeptides in a wide range of molecular weights (0.9-8.2kDa) were fully sequenced from a major neuroendocrine organ of the spiny lobster, P. interruptus. The resulting molecular information extracted from such multi-scale peptidomic analysis will greatly accelerate functional studies of these novel neuropeptides.

Keywords: Crustacean; De novo sequencing; Mass spectrometry; Neuropeptide; Peptidomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Arthropod Proteins / chemistry
  • Brachyura
  • Crustacea
  • Formaldehyde / chemistry
  • Invertebrate Hormones / chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / chemistry
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / chemistry*
  • Palinuridae / metabolism*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Protein Precursors / chemistry
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Proteomics*
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein


  • Arthropod Proteins
  • Invertebrate Hormones
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Peptides
  • Protein Precursors
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • hyperglycemic hormone, crustacean
  • allatostatin
  • hyperglycemic hormone precursor, crustacean
  • Formaldehyde