Many organisms, including mammals, use short peptides as neurotransmitters. The family of FMRFamide (Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-NH2)-like neuropeptides, which all share an -RFamide sequence at their C-termini, has been shown to have diverse functions, including neuromodulation and stimulation or inhibition of muscle contraction. In the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, FMRFamide-like peptides (FaRPs) are expressed in approximately 10% of the neurons, including motor, sensory, and interneurons that are involved in movement, feeding, defecation, and reproduction. At least 14 genes, designated flp-1 through flp-14, encode FaRPs in C. elegans. Here, we present data that all 14 flp genes are transcribed in C. elegans, and several of these genes are alternatively spliced. Each flp gene encodes a different set of FaRPs, yielding a predicted total of 44 distinct FaRPs. Using staged RNA for reverse-transcription/polymerase chain reactions (RT/PCR), we determined that most flp genes are expressed throughout development. These results suggest that a complex family of FaRPs have varied roles through all stages of development and in adulthood in C. elegans.
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