Cnidarians are the most primitive animals to possess a nervous system. This phylum is composed of the classes Scyphozoa (jellyfish), Cubozoa (box jellyfish), and Hydrozoa (e.g., Hydra
), which make up the subphylum Medusozoa, as well as the class Anthozoa (sea anemones and corals). Neuropeptides have an early evolutionary origin and are already abundant in cnidarians. For example, from the cnidarian Hydra
, a key model system for studying the peptides involved in developmental and physiological processes, we identified a wide variety of novel neuropeptides from Hydra magnipapillata
Peptide Project). Most of these peptides act directly on muscle cells and induce contraction and relaxation. Some peptides are involved in cell differentiation and morphogenesis. In this review, we describe FMRFamide-like peptides (FLPs), GLWamide-family peptides, and the neuropeptide Hym-355; FPQSFLPRGamide. Several hundred FLPs have been isolated from invertebrate animals such as cnidarians. GLWamide-family peptides function as signaling molecules in muscle contraction, metamorphosis, and settlement in cnidarians. Hym-355; FPQSFLPRGamide enhances neuronal differentiation in Hydra
. Recently, GLWamide-family peptides and Hym-355; FPQSFLPRGamide were shown to trigger oocyte maturation and subsequent spawning in the hydrozoan jellyfish Cytaeis uchidae
. These findings suggest the importance of these neuropeptides in both developmental and physiological processes.
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