Neuropeptides regulate cell-cell signaling and influence many biological processes in vertebrates, including development, growth, and reproduction. The complex processing of neuropeptides from prohormone proteins by prohormone convertases, combined with the evolutionary distance between the chicken and mammalian species that have experienced extensive neuropeptide research, has led to the empirical confirmation of only 18 chicken prohormone proteins. To expand our knowledge of the neuropeptide and prohormone convertase gene complement, we performed an exhaustive survey of the chicken genomic, EST, and proteomic databases using a list of 95 neuropeptide and 7 prohormone convertase genes known in other species. Analysis of the EST resources and 22 microarray studies offered a comprehensive portrait of gene expression across multiple conditions. Five neuropeptide genes (apelin, cocaine-and amphetamine-regulated transcript protein, insulin-like 5, neuropeptide S, and neuropeptide B) previously unknown in chicken were identified and 62 genes were confirmed. Although most neuropeptide gene families known in human are present in chicken, there are several gene not present in the chicken. Conversely, several chicken neuropeptide genes are absent from mammalian species, including C-RF amide, c-type natriuretic peptide 1 precursor, and renal natriuretic peptide. The prohormone convertases, with one exception, were found in the chicken genome. Bioinformatic models used to predict prohormone cleavages confirm that the processing of prohormone proteins into neuropeptides is similar between species. Neuropeptide genes are most frequently expressed in the brain and head, followed by the ovary and small intestine. Microarray analyses revealed that the expression of adrenomedullin, chromogranin-A, augurin, neuromedin-U, platelet-derived growth factor A and D, proenkephalin, relaxin-3, prepronociceptin, and insulin-like growth factor I was most susceptible (P-value < 0.005) to changes in developmental stage, gender, and genetic line among other conditions studied. Our complete survey and characterization facilitates understanding of neuropeptides genes in the chicken, an animal of importance to biomedical and agricultural research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Chicken genome
  • Convertase
  • Microarray experiment
  • Neuropeptide
  • Prohormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


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