Relaxin-like gonad-stimulating peptide (RGP) in starfish is the only known invertebrate peptide hormone responsible for final gamete maturation, rendering it functionally analogous to gonadotropins in vertebrates. Recently, RGP was purified from the radial nerves of starfish Asterina pectinifera, which belongs to the Order Valvatida in the Class Asteroidea. A. pectinifera is an endemic Japanese species, inhabiting rocky shores from northern to southern Japanese waters. This study examined whether genetic variation or polymorphism is found in RGP. Comparing cDNA sequences of RGP in A. pectinifera from 10 local populations in Japanese waters, we found that the coding DNA sequences (CDSs) were exactly the same. This result indicated that RGP is a highly conserved peptide in A. pectinifera. Furthermore, the CDS of RGP identified in Certonardoa semiregularis, which also belongs to Order Valvatida, was completely consistent with that of A. pectinifera. Thus, this also suggested that the chemical structure of A. pectinifera RGP is conserved among starfish of the Order Valvatida beyond species.
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