JSPS awarded to Professor Nozaki allowed the visit of seven Japanese scientists to UNH for collaborative research and a JSPS-NSF workshop.
The major objective of our U.S.-Japan Cooperative Research grant was to increase the interactions between my laboratory and Professor Kawauchiís laboratory in Japan in developing new techniques and insight on the molecular isolation of pituitary hormones (in particular, gonadotropins, GTH) in lampreys and hagfish. This NSF grant funded three of my postdocs to travel to Japan and do collaborative research for six weeks in Professor Kawauchi's laboratory. The JSPS award allowed several Japanese scientists and their students to travel to New Hampshire for three to six weeks stays. Between the NSF and JSPS grants, we were able to host three workshops entitled JSPS-NSF workshops in May, 1999 and May, 2003 at the University of New Hampshire. We held two workshops in Australia(sponsored by JSPS) in 2001 and 2002. These workshops included a minimum of seven oral presentations from each of our laboratories and for the opportunity of the students to interact and develop new insights and directions for our collaborative studies. Our grant enabled us to exceed our expectations of our collaborations and to additionally develop new collaborations beyond our two laboratories. During the past few years, we have isolated and identified the anterior pituitary hormones and cDNA/genes in lamprey (Sower and Kawauchi, 2001). We now have the complete amino acid sequences for most of the pituitary hormones except for gonadotropin (GTH). The phylogenetic relationship between hagfish, lamprey and the jawed vertebrates is an unresolved issue. As of 2002, agnathans are considered to be monophyletic in origin with the modern agnathans classified into two groups, myxinoids (hagfish) and petromyzonids (lamprey); while the gnathostomes constitute all the other living vertebrates, including the bony and cartilaginous fishes and the tetrapods. In 1994, Forey and Janvier had hypothesized from their phylogenetic and paleontological analysis that modern lamprey were more closely related to gnathostomes than they were to hagfish and considered paraphyletic. However, Janvier and his collaborators have recently reversed their position based on recent information on analysis of the complete mitochondrial DNA suggesting that lamprey and hagfish form a clade. These authors further suggested that due to unique anatomical and physiological characters of hagfish and lamprey that these characteristics should be re-examined and that the functional significance of these characters may be the weighting criterion in assisting to resolve the relationships of hagfish and lamprey to jawed vertebrates. Thus, information on the evolution of vertebrate brain/pituitary hormones and their genes in lamprey and hagfish can contribute to the ongoing phylogenetic analysis that may help in resolving the phylogenetic relationships between hagfish, lamprey, and jawed vertebrates.
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