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Acta Parasitologica, Vol.44, No. 1, 1999, 11-18
Halton David W., Maule Aaron G., Marks Nikki J., Fellowes Roz A., Shaw Chris - FMRFamide-related peptides (FaRPs) in helminth parasites.

Parasitology Research Group, School of Biology and Biochemistry, Medical Biology Centre, The Queen's University, Belfast BT9 7BL, U.K.

Neuropeptides are ubiquitous intercellular signalling molecules in all Metazoa with nervous systems. Research over the past 10 years has confirmed through immunocytochemistry that neuropeptides are widespread and abundant in the nervous systems of helminth parasites. Biochemical isolation and characterisation studies have indentified the primary structures of numerous structurally-related peptides in helminths, the best studied being the FMRFamide-related peptides (FaRPs). While to date only four FaRPs have been identified from platyhelminths, some 60 FaRPs or FaRP-like peptides have been isolated or predicted for nematodes. Preliminary physiological studies have shown that FaRPs are strongly myoactive, but with quite different actions in the two groups of helminth parasite. The absence of FaRPs from vertebrates suggests compounds with a high affinity for FaRP receptors are likely to have selective effects against helminths and, if protected from degradation, could have therapeutic potential.

KEY WORDS: helminths, platyhelminths, nematodes, nervous system, neuropeptides, FMRFamide, FaRPs
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