GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) plays a pivotal role in the regulation of reproduction in vertebrates through interaction with a specific receptor. Previously, we isolated a GnRH homo-logue, oct-GnRH, from the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris). In the present study, we have identified a GnRH receptor (oct-GnRHR) specific for oct-GnRH from Octopus brain. Oct-GnRHR includes domains and motifs typical of vertebrate GnRH receptors. The intron-inserted positions are conserved between oct-GnRHR and the chordate GnRHR genes. The oct-GnRHR expressed in Xenopus (South African clawed frog) oocytes was responsive to oct-GnRH, but not to any other HPLC fractions of the Octopus brain extract. These results show that oct-GnRHR is an authentic receptor for oct-GnRH. Southern blotting of reverse-transcription PCR products revealed that the oct-GnRHR mRNA was widely distributed in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in several peripheral tissues. In situ hybridiz-ation showed that oct-GnRHR mRNA was expressed in some regions involved in autonomic functions, feeding, memory and movement. Oct-GnRH was shown to induce steroidogenesis of testosterone, progesterone and 17β-oestradiol in Octopus ovary and testis, where oct-GnRHR was abundantly expressed. These results suggest that oct-GnRH, like its vertebrate counterparts, acts as a multifunctional neurotransmitter, neuromodulator and hormone-like factor, both in Octopus central nervous system and peripheral tissues, and that both structure and functions of the GnRH family are, at least partially, evolutionarily conserved between octopuses and chordates.

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