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: Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

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)

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

Telling the time of day by color

8 hours ago

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Aphrodisiac for fish and frogs discovered

13 hours ago

A supplement simply added to water has been shown to boost reproduction in nematodes (roundworms), molluscs, fish and frogs – and researchers believe it could work for humans too.

Evolution puts checks on virgin births

13 hours ago

It seems unnatural that a species could survive without having sex. Yet over the ages, evolution has endowed females of certain species of amphibians, reptiles and fish with the ability to clone themselves, ...

Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

Apr 16, 2015

When humans and their four-legged, furry best friends look into one another's eyes, there is biological evidence that their bond strengthens, researchers report.

Roundworm parasite targets canine eyes

Apr 16, 2015

(HealthDay)—A small number of dogs and cats across the United States have been infected by a roundworm parasite that targets the eye, according to a new report.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.