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Since the discovery of the first hormone, secretin, from the gastrointestinal tract by Bayliss and Starling in 1902, our knowledge of chemical mediators produced by the gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) system has grown considerably. The emergence of each new experimental approach ushered in a wave of new information. The latest developments in molecular biological approaches have and will continue to provide many important insights into hormone biology. Today, we know that the GEP cell feature of amine precursor uptake and decarboxylation (APUD) is shared by many other cell types (Norris, 1997); in fact, hormones secreted by the GEP also are secreted by cells of the nervous system, leading to the notion of a "brain-gut" distribution of hormones that makes the distinction between the endocrine system and nervous system no longer tenable (Thorndyke and Falkmer, 1985). We also now know that many GEP/neural hormones exist in a variety of molecular forms, sometimes co-localized with other factors, that modulate a vast array of functions in target cells that may be either distant or near to the site of secretion (see Holmgren, 1989). It is indeed interesting that the GEP system, the system that gave us the term "hormone" (Starling, 1905), now forces us to re-examine what a hormone is.
This symposium was designed to advance such a re-examination by bringing together GEP researchers whose recent work has provided new information on several critical issues that face hormone biology; among this information includes insights into the following topics: 1) origins of hormones, 2) hormone biosynthesis--from gene to bioactive peptide, 3) hormone structure-function relationships, and 4) ligand-receptor interactions. The comparative approaches employed by the participants uniquely posture this symposium to provide an integrated, up-to-date view about the evolution of the GEP system in animals.
CONTRIBUTIONS OF ERIKA M. PLISETSKAYA TO THE FIELD OF …