Annetocin, an annelid oxytocin-related peptide, induces egg-laying behavior in the earthworm, Eisenia foetida

J Exp Zool. 1996 Oct 1;276(2):151-6. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-010X(19961001)276:2<151::AID-JEZ8>3.0.CO;2-N.


Annetocin, an oxytocin-related peptide which we isolated from the earthworm Eisenia foetida, induced a series of egg-laying-related behaviors in the earthworms. These stereotyped behaviors consisted of well-defined rotatory movements, characteristic body-shape changes, and mucous secretion from the clitellum. Each of these behaviors is known to be associated with formation of the cocoon in which eggs are deposited. In fact, some of the earthworms injected with annetocin (> 5 nmol) laid eggs. Such egg-laying-related behaviors except for oviposition were also induced by oxytocin, but not by Arg-vasopressin and some other bioactive peptides isolated from E. foetida. Furthermore, annetocin also induced these egg-laying-like behaviors in the leech Whitmania pigra, but not in the polychaete Perinereis vancaurica. These results suggest that annetocin plays some key role in triggering stereotyped egg-laying behaviors in terrestrial or fresh-water annelids that have the clitella.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Invertebrate Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Leeches / drug effects
  • Leeches / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligochaeta / drug effects
  • Oligochaeta / physiology
  • Oviposition / physiology
  • Ovum / drug effects
  • Ovum / physiology*
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacology*
  • Polychaeta / drug effects
  • Polychaeta / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects


  • Invertebrate Hormones
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • annetocin