Relaxin-like gonad-stimulating peptide (RGP) is a hormone with gonadotropin-like activity in starfish. This study revealed that spawning inducing activity was detected in an extract of brachiolaria larvae of Patiria pectinifera. Spawning inducing activity in the extract was due to P. pectinifera RGP (PpeRGP), not 1-methyladenine. The expression of PpeRGP mRNA was also found in brachiolaria. Immunohistochemical observation with specific antibodies for PpeRGP showed that PpeRGP was distributed in the peripheral adhesive papilla of the brachiolaria arms. In contrast, PpeRGP was not detected in the adult rudiment or ciliary band regions, which are present in the neural system. These findings strongly suggest that RGP exists in the larvae before metamorphosis. Because gonads are not developed in starfish larvae, it seems likely that RGP plays another role other than gonadotropic action in the early development of starfish.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1