Neural modulation of gut motility by myomodulin peptides and acetylcholine in the snail Lymnaea

J Neurophysiol. 1998 May;79(5):2460-74. doi: 10.1152/jn.1998.79.5.2460.


Families of peptide neuromodulators are believed to play important roles in neural networks that control behaviors. Here, we investigate the expression and role of one such group of modulators, the myomodulins, in the feeding system of Lymnaea stagnalis. Using a combination of in situ hybridization and antibody staining, expression of the myomodulin gene was confirmed in a number of identified behaviorally significant neuronal types, including the paired B2 motor neurons. The B2 cells were shown to project axons to the proesophagus, where they modulate foregut contractile activity. The presence of the five myomodulin peptide structures was confirmed in the B2 cells, the proesophagus, and the intervening nerve by mass spectrometry. Using a sensitive cell culture assay, evidence that the B2 cells are cholinergic also is presented. Application of four of the five myomodulin peptides to the isolated foregut increased both contraction frequency and tonus, whereas the main effect of acetylcholine (ACh) application was a large tonal contraction. The fifth myomodulin peptide (pQIPMLRLamide) appeared to have little or no effect on gut motility. Coapplication of all five myomodulin peptides gave a greater increase in tonus than that produced by the peptides applied individually, suggesting that corelease of the peptides onto the gut would produce an enhanced response. The combined effects that the myomodulin peptides and ACh have on foregut motility can mimic the main actions of B2 cell stimulation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Acetylcholine / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Esophagus / drug effects
  • Esophagus / innervation
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lymnaea / drug effects
  • Lymnaea / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / chemistry
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neuropeptides / biosynthesis
  • Neuropeptides / genetics
  • Neuropeptides / pharmacology
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • Neuropeptides
  • Peptide Fragments
  • RNA, Messenger
  • myomodulin
  • Acetylcholine