In a recent paper, Wang and colleagues described the genomes of two turtles, the Chinese soft-shell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)1. A salient finding was an apparent absence of GHRL, the gene encoding the only known circulating orexigen, the peptide hormone ghrelin. The highly conserved GHRL encodes at least two bioactive peptide hormones, ghrelin2 and obestatin3, which are recognized to have a diverse range of functions in a number of cell types and physiological systems4, 5. Wang and colleagues hypothesized that the absence of ghrelin was associated with the low metabolic rate observed in these turtle species1.
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