Developmental expression of tryptophan hydroxylase gene in Ciona intestinalis
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To describe the serotonergic system in a tunicate larva, we cloned a gene encoding for tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH), the rate-limiting enzyme in serotonin synthesis, in the ascidian Ciona intestinalis and studied its expression pattern during development. Ci-TPH expression was found from tailbud stage in the precursor cells of the visceral ganglion and in the tail. In the larva, TPH-expressing neurons formed two clusters in the anterior central nervous system at the level of the visceral ganglion. Moreover, we found Ci-TPH expression at the level of the muscle cells of the tail and suggested that this localisation might be at the level of neuro-muscolar junctions. Moreover, we discussed the involvement of serotonin in the control of larval locomotory activity.
KeywordsSerotonin Ascidian Nervous system Tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) Ciona intestinalis
This work was supported by the MIUR-PRIN 2004 grant, prot. 2004057732. The authors sincerely thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments, which helped to improve the paper.
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