Table of Contents
Journal of Amino Acids
Volume 2011, Article ID 424501, 8 pages
Review Article

The Importance of GLWamide Neuropeptides in Cnidarian Development and Physiology

1Suntory Foundation for Life Sciences, Bioorganic Research Institute, 1-1-1 Wakayamadai, Shimamoto, Mishima, Osaka 618-8503, Japan
2Department of Biology, Ochanomizu University, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8610, Japan

Received 14 June 2011; Accepted 22 August 2011

Academic Editor: Dinkar Sahal

Copyright © 2011 Toshio Takahashi and Masayuki Hatta. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The peptide-signaling molecules (<50 amino acid residues) occur in a wide variety of invertebrate and vertebrate organisms, playing pivotal roles in physiological, endocrine, and developmental processes. While some of these peptides display similar structures in mammals and invertebrates, others differ with respect to their structure and function in a species-specific manner. Such a conservation of basic structure and function implies that many peptide-signaling molecules arose very early in the evolutionary history of some taxa, while species-specific characteristics led us to suggest that they also acquire the ability to evolve in response to specific environmental conditions. In this paper, we describe GLWamide-family peptides that function as signaling molecules in the process of muscle contraction, metamorphosis, and settlement in cnidarians. The peptides are produced by neurons and are therefore referred to as neuropeptides. We discuss the importance of the neuropeptides in both developmental and physiological processes in a subset of hydrozoans, as well as the potential use as a seed compound in drug development and aspects related to the protection of corals.