PhD Oral Defense: Deorphanization and characterization of neuropeptide receptors in the model nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans
PhD Oral Defense of Elizabeth Ruiz Lancheros, Institute of Parasitology
Nematode neuropeptides play critical roles in modulating neuronal networks acting independently or together with other neurotransmitters; consequently, they influence motor programs and all nematode behavior outputs. The FMRF-amide like peptide (FLP) family of neuropeptides is particularly well-conserved across the phylum Nematoda and differs from its vertebrate counterpart. Peptides in this family are involved in neuromuscular functions, feeding/metabolism, and reproductive behaviors in free-living and parasitic nematodes. These unique characteristics of FLPs make their endogenous receptors, mainly G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), potential targets for the rational discovery of chemotherapeutic agents that target parasitic nematodes. Relatively few FLPs have been associated with a receptor and several important candidate neuropeptide-GPCRs remain orphans (unpaired with its endogenous ligand). In this work, we designed an in situ deorpanization strategy in the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.