Department of Developmental Genetics, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Japan
Peptides play a number of crucial roles as signaling molecules in metazoans. In order to elaborate a more complete picture of the roles played by peptides in a single organism, we launched the “Hydra Peptide Project”. For this project, we used Hydra magnipapillata, a species belonging to Cnidaria, one of the most basal metazoan phyla, and using a peptidomic approach, we systematically identified a number of peptide signaling mole-cules, their encoding genes and their functions. In this article, we report the peptides isolated from Hydra and other cnidarians, as well as their synthesis, processing and release from the cells to the target. Possible peptide signaling pathways are overviewed and finally we dis-cuss the evolution of the peptide signaling system.