Vitellogenenesis is a physiological process common in oviparous animals. The molecular profile, modifications, and utilization of vitellogenin (VTG), a precursor of yolk protein, have been characterized in various taxa to understand oogenesis within different modes of reproduction. Hormonal regulation of VTGs has been investigated in invertebrates, such as insects and crustaceans; conversely, little is known for cephalopods. In this study, we isolated two VTG genes (ue-VTG1 and ue-VTG2) from the loliginid swordtip squid, Uroteuthis edulis, via a comprehensive survey of a transcriptome database and subsequent cDNA cloning. Structural analysis of the two ue-VTGs revealed their unique features, namely the absence of two domains usually found in VTGs from other organisms: the von Willebrand factor D domain (vWD) and the domain of unknown function 1943 (DUF1943). Levels of ue-VTG1 and ue-VTG2 transcripts in the ovary, specifically in follicular cells, increased during the late-vitellogenic phase, suggesting that yolk accumulation progresses via paracrine interactions involving follicular cells and oocytes. N-terminal amino acid sequencing of biochemically purified yolk protein revealed its origins from these two VTGs, indicating that both are functional precursors of yolk protein. These results provide information that is essential to understanding the physiological pathway of yolk synthesis, accumulation, and storage in loliginid squids.
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