Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), sauvagine, and urotensin I are all members of the so-called CRF neuropeptide family. Urocortin (Ucn), a 40-amino-acid neuropeptide recently isolated from the rat brain, is the newest member of this family. Until now, the distribution of Ucn in the central nervous system (CNS) has been studied only in placental mammals. We used a polyclonal antiserum against rat Ucn to determine the distribution of Ucn-like immunoreactivity in the CNS of the green frog, Rana esculenta. The great majority of Ucn-immunoreactive perikarya was seen in the anterior preoptic area, ventromedial thalamic nucleus, posterior tuberculum, nucleus of the medial longitudinal fasciculus, and Edinger-Westphal nucleus. Urocortin-immunoreactive nerve cells were also observed in the motor nuclei of the trigeminal and facial nerves and in the hypoglossal nucleus. Immunoreactive fibers were found in the medial and lateral septal nuclei, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, many of the thalamic and hypothalamic nuclei, mesencephalic tectum, tegmental nuclei, torus semicircularis, and dorsal horn and central field of the spinal cord. Only scattered Ucn-immunoreactive axon terminals were observed in the external zone of the medial eminence. The densest accumulations of Ucn-immunoreactive nerve terminals were seen in the granular layer of the cerebellum and cochlear nuclei. Our results suggest that an ortholog of mammalian Ucn occurs in the CNS of the green frog. The distribution of Ucn-like immunoreactivity in Rana esculenta showed many similarities to the distribution in placental mammals. The distribution of Ucn-like immunoreactivity in the anuran CNS was different from that of CRF and sauvagine, so our results suggest that at least three different lineages of the CRF neuropeptide family occur in the anuran CNS.
- Corticotropin-releasing factor
- Urotensin I
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