Motilin, a peptide hormone consisting of 22 amino acid residues, was identified in the duodenum of pigs in the 1970s. It is known to induce gastrointestinal contractions during the interdigestive state in mammals. Although the motilin gene has been identified in various animal species, it has not been studied in amphibians. Here, we identified the motilin gene in the Japanese fire bellied newt (Cynops pyrrhogaster), and conducted an analysis of tissue distribution, morphological observations, and physiological experiments. The deduced mature newt motilin comprises 22 amino acid residues, like in mammals and birds. The C-terminus of the newt motilin showed high homology with motilin from other species compared to the N-terminus region, which is considered the bioactive site. Motilin mRNA expression in newts was abundant in the upper small intestine, with notably high motilin mRNA expression found in the pancreas. Motilin-producing cells were found in the mucosal layer of the upper small intestine and existed as two cell types: open-and closed-type cells. Motilin-producing cells in the pancreas were also found to produce insulin but not glucagon. Newt motilin stimulated gastric contractions but not in other parts of the intestines in vitro, and motilin-induced gastric contraction was significantly inhibited by treatment with atropine, a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist. These results indicate that motilin is also present in amphibians, and that its gastrointestinal contractile effects are conserved in mammals, birds, and amphibians. Additionally, we demonstrated for the first time the existence of pancreatic motilin, suggesting that newt motilin has an additional unknown physiological role.
Keywords: Amphibians; Gastrointestinal tract; Motilin; Newt; Pancreas.
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