Purple sea urchin metamorphosis controlled by histamine

Apr 26, 2012
This image shows extensive histamine containing cells in metamorphic all competent sea urchin larvae (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus). Credit: Andreas Heyland

Now that hay fever season has started, sufferers are well aware of the effect of histamines. However it is easy to forget that histamine is also a neurotransmitter involved in controlling memories, regulating sleep, and controlling secretion of gastric acid. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Developmental Biology shows that for the purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) histamine is also responsible for controlling metamorphosis from a free swimming larval form to the spiny adult living on the sea floor.

Echinoids ( and sand dollars) have evolved a range of reproductive and developmental strategies. One of them involves a free swimming (pelagic) larval form which after a period of 'competence', while the animal searches for an appropriate settlement site, metamorphoses into the adult form (benthic) which lives on the . In the purple sea urchin metamorphic changes occur in response to specific environmental cues that competent larvae become responsive to after they are five weeks old. During metamorphosis most larval structures are reabsorbed and juvenile structures, such as their tube feet used for locomotion, feeding and sensing their environment, begin to emerge.

Researchers from University of Guelph and Brown University found that histamine is an important regulatory component of the process of reaching competence. They discovered that histamine regulates the metamorphic process via a sea urchin histamine receptor related to the mammalian histamine receptor 3 (H3R). This receptor has been shown to be involved primarily in neuronal communication in mammals. Similarly, another anti-histamine, AMH, which blocks the production of the sea urchin's own histamine resulted in an increase of number of settled adults.

Dr Andreas Heyland, who led the research, explained, "Histamine is very important in controlling purple sea urchin competence and metamorphosis. We found an extensive network of histamine containing neurones in the pre-metamorphic and metamorphically competent larvae which mature as the larvae develop. When we looked in detail at the effects of histamine we found that histamine seemed to inhibit programmed cell death (PCD), an essential process of the metamorphic transition. In our experiments we were able to induce PCD and arm resorption with antihistamines further indicating that is playing a central function in the complex regulatory signalling network underlying competence and metamorphosis."

Explore further: Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

More information: Histamine is a modulator of metamorphic competence in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) Josh Sutherby, Jamie-Lee Giardini, Julia Nguyen, Gary Wessel, Mariana Leguia and Andreas Heyland. BMC Developmental Biology (in press)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Crystalizing the foundations of better antihistamines

Nov 21, 2011

Researchers in Japan have solved the structure of a complex between the antihistamine drug doxepin and its target receptor histamine H1 receptor (H1R)1. Led by So Iwata of Kyoto University and the RIKEN Systems ...

Aggression-boldness gene identified in model fish

Oct 05, 2011

A gene responsible for aggressive and bold behavior has been identified in zebrafish by a French team from CNRS/Laboratoire Neurobiologie et Développement. This specific behavioral association, whose ...

Mind can control allergic response

Jan 19, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- You – or more accurately, your brain – has control over how allergic your skin is, suggests new research.

Recommended for you

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

12 hours ago

Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Teresa Romero from The University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.

User comments : 0