Relaxin-3 systems in the brain-The first 10 years

Craig M. Smith, Philip J. Ryan, Ihaia T. Hosken, Sherie Ma, Andrew L. Gundlach

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

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The relaxin-3 gene was identified in 2001 by searching the human genome database for homologues of the relaxin hormone, and was subsequently discovered to encode a highly conserved neuropeptide in mammals and lower species. In the decade since its discovery there have been significant advances in our knowledge of the peptide, including the identification of its cognate receptor (a type 1 G-protein coupled receptor, GPCR135 or RXFP3), an understanding of its structure-activity and associated cellular signalling, and the elucidation of key neuroanatomical aspects of relaxin-3/RXFP3 networks in mammalian brain. The latter studies revealed that relaxin-3 is expressed within GABA neurons of the brainstem including an area known as the nucleus incertus, and that ascending relaxin-3 projections innervate a broad range of RXFP3-rich forebrain areas. These maps provided a foundation for pharmacological and physiological studies to elucidate the neurobiological nature of relaxin-3/RXFP3 signalling in vivo. Recent findings from our laboratory and others suggest the relaxin-3 neural network represents a newly identified ascending arousal system, able to modulate a range of interrelated functions including responses to stress, spatial and emotional memory, feeding and metabolism, motivation and reward, and circadian rhythm and sleep/wake states. More research is now required to discover further important facts about relaxin-3 neurons, such as their various regulatory inputs, and to characterise populations of RXFP3-positive neurons and determine their influence on particular neural circuits, physiology and complex behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-275
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Arousal
  • Homeostasis
  • Neuropeptide modulator
  • Relaxin-3/insulin-like peptide 7
  • RXFP3/GPCR135
  • Stress

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