A member of the RPCH/AKH (red-pigment-concentrating hormone/adipokinetic hormone) family of arthropod neuropeptides was identified in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, and its structure was determined by automated Edman degradation and m.s. using fast-atom-bombardment ionization and a tandem hybrid instrument capable of high sensitivity. The sequence of this peptide, which we call ‘DAKH’, is pGlu-Leu-Thr-Phe-Ser-Pro-Asp-Trp-NH2 (where pGlu is pyroglutamic acid and Trp-NH2 is tryptophan carboxyamide). H.p.l.c. analyses of extracts of the three body segments revealed that more than 80% of the peptide is contained in the thorax. Although DAKH is typical of family members in its general structure and distribution in the animal, it is unique in containing a residue which is charged under physiological conditions. The evolutionary significance of this change is considered.

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