Neuromedin B (NMB) is one of the bombesin (BN)-related peptides in mammals. It was originally purified from pig spinal cords, and it has been shown to be present in central nervous system as well as in gastrointestinal tract. BN and its related peptides have various physiological effects. These include regulation of exocrine and endocrine secretions, smooth muscle contraction, feeding, blood pressure, blood glucose, body temperature and cell growth. NMB exerts its effect by binding to the cell surface receptor. A high affinity receptor, NMB receptor (NMB-R) has been identified. This is a G-protein coupled receptor with seven membrane-spanning regions. Upon agonist binding, several intracellular signaling cascades including phospholipase activation, calcium mobilization and protein kinase C (PKC) activation lead to expression of several genes, DNA synthesis or cellular effects such as secretion. Existence of NMB-R has been demonstrated in several brain regions, notably in olfactory and thalamic regions, and in gastrointestinal tracts. Recent analysis using NMB-R-deficient mice, generated by gene-targeting technique, enables to distinguish functional properties of NMB-R from GRP-R. In this review, molecular characterization, anatomical distribution and pharmacological properties of NMB and NMB-R will be presented. Moreover, physiological roles of NMB and its receptor demonstrated by the analysis of NMB-R-deficient mice will be reported. Comparison with GRP/GRP-R system will provide important information about BN-like peptide systems in mammals.
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