A conserved heptapeptide sequence in the waterborne attractin pheromone stimulates mate attraction in Aplysia

Scott F. Cummins, Amy E. Nichols, Krishna Rajarathnam, Gregg T. Nagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Mate attraction in the marine mollusk Aplysia involves long-distance waterborne chemical signaling via the release of the peptide pheromone attractin during egg laying. Aplysia californica attractin attracts conspecifics, reduces the latency to mating, and stimulates hermaphroditic mating. Four additional members of the Aplysia attractin family have recently been characterized from Aplysia brasiliana, Aplysia fasciata, Aplysia depilans, and Aplysia vaccaria. The five sequences differ significantly, but share six cysteine residues and the strictly conserved sequence Ile30-Glu-Glu- Cys-Lys-Thr-Ser36. Attractin is attractive to geographically and evolutionarily distant species, suggesting that the conserved heptapeptide region may be important for mate attraction. Consistent with this prediction, a synthetic constrained cyclic peptide that contains the conserved heptapeptide sequence is significantly attractive in T-maze bioassays. The attractins are the first family of waterborne peptide pheromones characterized in invertebrates and are unique in that family members are not species-specific pheromonal attractants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-189
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004



  • Albumen gland
  • Aplysia
  • Attractin
  • Pheromone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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