Meeting Abstract

P1.135  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Global Discovery and Validation of Signaling Molecules in the Ctenophore, CITARELLA, M.R.*; GIRARDO, D.O.; KOHN, A.B.; MOROZ, L.L.; Whitney Lab for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida, St Augustine, FL ; Whitney Lab for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida, St Augustine, FL ; Whitney Lab for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida, St Augustine, FL ; Whitney Lab for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida, St Augustine, FL, Dept of Neuroscience,University of Florida, Gainesville, FL mathew.citarella@gmail.com

Neuropeptides and protein hormones are ancient signaling molecules involved in neural integration, plasticity and development. Here, we present the first genome-wide identification of putative signaling molecules in the phylum Ctenophora. Our lab has recently finished the sequencing and assembly of the genome as well as deep transcriptome analysis of four related ctenophore species (, , , ). We also developed an automated annotation pipeline, which enables rapid genome-wide prediction and discovery of intercellular signaling molecules in ctenophores. As a result, we identified 458 candidates and searched for their homologs across basal metazoans and bilaterians (including Hemichordates, Echinoderms and< Xenoturbella>). When combined, these genome-wide comparative surveys provide the unique opportunity to reconstruct ancestral neuronal lineages, identify cell homologies across species and reveal trends in evolution within neural circuits. The majority of neuropeptides appear to be class and phylum-specific ligands suggesting that these intercellular messengers are among the most evolutionarily dynamic signaling molecules, demonstrating a high degree of parallel evolution and apparently independent origins across animal phyla.