Project title: Discovery and functional characterisation of tachykinin-type neuropeptide signalling in an echinoderm
Summary: Tachykinins are an evolutionarily conserved family of neuropeptides in the Bilateria. Mainly expressed in the central nervous system and in the intestine, tachykinins are multifunctional signalling molecules that regulate various physiological processes such as intestinal motility, smooth muscle contraction and cardiovascular function. Tachykinins have been characterised in a variety of taxa, including vertebrates and invertebrates (e.g. insects). However, little is known about tachykinin signalling in echinoderms and the aim of this study will be to fill this gap in our knowledge to obtain new insights into the evolution and comparative physiology of neuropeptide signalling. The common European starfish Asterias rubens will be used as a model experimental system for the study, building upon the recent successful functional characterisation of other neuropeptide signalling systems in this species.