Urotensin II (UII) is involved, via the UII receptor (UTR), in many physiological and pathological processes, including vasoconstriction, locomotion, osmoregulation, immune response, and metabolic syndrome. In silico studies have revealed the presence of four or five distinct UTR (UTR1–UTR5) gene sequences in nonmammalian vertebrates. However, the functionality of these receptor subtypes and their associations to signaling pathways are unclear. In this study, full-length cDNAs encoding four distinct UTR subtypes (UTR1, UTR3, UTR4, and UTR5) were isolated from the western clawed frog (Xenopus tropicalis). In functional analyses, homologous Xenopus UII stimulation of cells expressing UTR1 or UTR5 induced intracellular calcoum mobilization and phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2. Cells expressing UTR3 or UTR4 did not show this response. Furthermore, UII induced the phosphorylation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) response element binding protein (CREB) through the UII–UTR1/5 system. However, intracellular cAMP accumulation was not observed, suggesting that UII-induced CREB phosphorylation is caused by a signaling pathway different from that involving Gs protein. In contrast, the administration of UII to cells increased the phosphorylation of guanine nucleotide exchange factor-H1 (GEF-H1) and myosin light chain 2 (MLC2) in all UTR subtypes. These results define four distinct UTR functional subtypes and are consistent with the molecular evolution of UTR subtypes in vertebrates. Further understanding of signaling properties associated with UTR subtypes may help in clarifying the functional roles associated with UII–UTR interactions in nonmammalian vertebrates.
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