School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Luis Yañez Guerra

Luis Yañez

PhD student



Project title: Comparative physiology and evolution of tachykinin signaling: an echinoderm model system

Summary: The aim of this work is to characterise the physiological roles of tachykinin-type neuropeptides in the starfish Asterias rubens. This will be the first study to investigate tachykinin signalling in an echinoderm. Analysis of nerve cord transcriptome sequence data from A. rubens has revealed transcripts encoding a tachykinin-type precursor as well as tachykinin-type receptors. These transcripts will be cloned and sequenced to enable investigation of their expression in starfish using mRNA in situ hybridisation. Mass spectrometry will be employed to confirm the structures of tachykinin-type peptides that occur in starfish and to enable development of specific antibodies for immunocytochemical studies. Having determined the anatomical organisation of the tachykinin signalling system in starfish, in vitro and in vivo pharmacological methods will be employed to investigate the physiological roles of tachykinin-type peptides in echinoderms.

The data obtained will provide new insights on the comparative physiology and evolution of tachykinin signalling.