Serotonin and its metabolism in basal deuterostomes: Insights from Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and Xenoturbella bocki

Leah N. Squires, Stanislav S. Rubakhin, Andinet Amare Wadhams, Kristeiy N. Talbot, Hiroaki Nakano, Leonid L. Moroz, Jonathan V. Sweedler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Serotonin (5-HT), an important molecule in metazoans, is involved in a range of biological processes including neurotransmission and neuromodulation. Both its creation and release are tightly regulated, as is its removal. Multiple neurochemical pathways are responsible for the catabolism of 5-HT and are phyla specific; therefore, by elucidating these catabolic pathways we glean greater understanding of the relationships and origins of various transmitter systems. Here, 5-HT catabolic pathways were studied in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and Xenoturbella bocki, two organisms occupying distinct positions in deuterostomes. The 5-HTrelated compounds detected in these organisms were compared with those reported in other phyla. In S. purpuratus, 5-HT-related metabolites include N-acetyl serotonin, y-glutamyl-serotonin and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid; the quantity and type were found to vary based on the specific tissues analyzed. In addition to these compounds, varying levels of tryptamine were also seen. Upon addition of a 5-HT precursor and a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, 5-HT itself was detected. In similar experiments using X. bocki tissues, the 5-HT-related compounds found included 5-HT sulfate, y-glutamyl-serotonin and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, as well as 5-HT and tryptamine. The sea urchin metabolizes 5-HT in a manner similar to both gastropod mollusks, as evidenced by the detection of y-glutamyl-serotonin, and vertebrates, as indicated by the presence of 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid and /V-acetyl serotonin. In contrast, 5-HT metabolism in X. bocki appears more similar to common protostome 5-HT catabolic pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2647-2654
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010


  • Capillary electrophoresis
  • Catabolism
  • Indoleamine
  • Neurotransmitters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Insect Science
  • Aquatic Science


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