23rd Conference of European Comparative Endocrinologists edition:23 location:Manchester (U.K.) date:29 August - 2 September 2006
In metazoans, physiological responses to neuronal and endocrine signals are elicited by activation of specific receptor proteins. This activation induces cellular effects via a process, generally designated as signal transduction. Interestingly, the main categories of signal transducing receptor proteins are conserved in animals. Moreover, this is also the case for most families of proteins that are components of cellular signalling pathways. The recent technological revolution in genomics certainly has an important impact on signal transduction research and forms a basis for comparative endocrinological and evolutionary studies in different animal Phyla. Convenient expression systems and functional assay procedures are needed for studying the properties of the encoded predicted proteins. In this presentation, a number of conserved signalling protein families will be discussed, as well as recent advances and future directions in the analysis of their structural and functional properties. More in particular, we will review the current knowledge concerning the superfamily of G protein-coupled receptors and give several examples of peptide ligand - receptor couples of which the evolutionary origin must have preceded the divergence of protostomes and deuterostomes. Future challenges are to study the regulation, function and interplay of a multitude of newly discovered genes and to analyse the in vivo dynamics of functional interactions in biological systems.