Alterations of Pleiotropic Neuropeptide-Receptor gene couples in Cetacea

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Habitat transitions have considerable consequences in organism homeostasis, as they require the adjustment of several concurrent physiological compartments to maintain stability and adapt to a changing environment. Within the range of molecules with a crucial role in the regulation of different physiological processes, neuropeptides are key agents. Here, we examined the coding status of several neuropeptides and their receptors with pleiotropic activity in Cetacea.


Analysis of 202 mammalian genomes, including 41 species of Cetacea, exposed an intricate mutational landscape compatible with gene sequence modification and loss. Specifically for Cetacea, in the twelve genes analysed we have determined patterns of loss ranging from species-specific disruptive mutations (e.g., Neuropeptide FF-Amide Peptide Precursor; NPFF ) to complete erosion of the gene across the cetacean stem lineage (e.g., Somatostatin Receptor 4; SSTR4 ).


Impairment of some of these neuromodulators, may have contributed to the unique energetic metabolism, circadian rhythmicity and diving response displayed by this group of iconic mammals.

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