Neurotensin (NT) and neurotensin-related peptide (Lys8, Asn9, NT8–13: LANT-6) have previously been purified from chicken intestine. However, the presence of these peptides and the localization of their precursor mRNA in the brain were not well understood. In the present study, through a comprehensive analysis of bioactive substances, NT and LANT-6 were identified in the chicken brain using tandem mass spectrometry combined with a bioassay of the colon contraction. The effect of NT and LANT-6 on the colon contraction was assessed, and NT was found to be 10 times more potent than LANT-6. Furthermore, the sites of NT/LANT-6 precursor mRNA expression in the brain were investigated using quantitative RT-PCR. The result showed that the mRNA was expressed most in the telencephalon, followed by the diencephalon. In situ hybridization analysis revealed that cells containing NT/LANT-6 precursor mRNA were widely distributed throughout the brain except for the cerebellum. Additionally, these were highly concentrated in the frontal telencephalon, including the nidopallium, hyperpallium, and hippocampus. Collectively, these results indicate that NT and LANT-6 are produced in the chicken brain, and they may participate in multiple functions.
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Vol. 31 • No. 6