Oocyte maturation and subsequent spawning in hydrozoan jellyfish are generally triggered by light-dark cycles. To examine if the initiation of the maturation process after light stimulus is mediated by neurotransmitters, neuropeptides isolated originally from Hydra magnipapillata were applied to sexually mature female medusae of the hydrozoan jellyfish Cytaeis uchidae. Among the Hydra neuropeptides tested, Hym-53 (NPYPGLW-NH2), as well as a nonphysiological peptide, CGLWamide (CGLW-NH2), were most effective in inducing oocyte maturation and spawning. Hym-355 (FPQSFLPRG-NH2) also triggered these events, but the stimulatory effect was weaker. Since Hym-53-OH (NPYPGLW) and Hym-355-OH (FPQSFLPRG) had no effect, amidation at the C-terminus may be critical for the stimulatory activities of the peptides. Exposure to Hym-53 for 2min was sufficient to trigger of oocyte maturation, and the spawned eggs were able to be fertilized and to develop normally. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed that bundles of axon-like structures that contain dense-core synaptic vesicles and microtubules are present in the ovarian ectodermal epithelium overlying the oocytes. In addition, immunohistological analyses revealed that some of the neurons in the ectodermal epithelium are GLWamide- and PRGamide-positive. These results suggest that a neuropeptide signal transduction pathway is involved in mediating the induction of oocyte maturation and spawning in this jellyfish.
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