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Histamine is a modulator of metamorphic competence in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (Echinodermata: Echinoidea)

DOI: 10.1186/1471-213x-12-14

Keywords: Metamorphosis, Metamorphic competence, Settlement, Echinoderm life-history, Histamine, Histamine receptors, Settlement, Life history evolution, Modulation

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Our results provide strong evidence that HA leads to the acquisition of metamorphic competence in S. purpuratus larvae. Pharmacological analysis of several HA receptor antagonists and an inhibitor of HA synthesis indicates a function of HA in metamorphic competence as well as programmed cell death (PCD) during arm retraction. Furthermore we identified an extensive network of histaminergic neurons in pre-metamorphic and metamorphically competent larvae. Analysis of this network throughout larval development indicates that the maturation of specific neuronal clusters correlates with the acquisition of metamorphic competence. Moreover, histamine receptor antagonist treatment leads to the induction of caspase mediated apoptosis in competent larvae.We conclude that HA is a modulator of metamorphic competence in S. purpuratus development and hypothesize that HA may have played an important role in the evolution of settlement strategies in echinoids. Our findings provide novel insights into the evolution of HA signalling and its function in one of the most important and widespread life history transitions in the animal kingdom - metamorphosis.


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