Publication date: Available online 24 January 2014Source:Peptides Author(s): Nishikant K. Subhedar , Kartik T. Nakhate , Manoj A. Upadhya , Dadasaheb M. Kokare Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART) with its wide distribution in the brain of mammals has been the focus of considerable research in recent years. Last two decades have witnessed a steady rise in the information on the genes that encode this neuropeptide and regulation of its transcription and translation. CART is highly enriched in the hypothalamic nuclei and its relevance to energy homeostasis and neuroendocrine control has been understood in great details. However, the occurrence of this peptide in a range of diverse circuitries for sensory, motor, vegetative, limbic and higher cortical areas has been confounding. Evidence that CART peptide may have role in addiction, pain, reward, learning and memory, cognition, sleep, reproduction and development, modulation of behavior and regulation of autonomic nervous system are accumulating, but an integration has been missing. A steady stream of papers has been pointing at the therapeutic potentials of CART. The current review is an attempt at piecing together the fragments of available information, and seeks meaning out of the CART elements in their anatomical niche. We try to put together the CART containing neuronal circuitries that have been conclusively demonstrated as well as those which have been proposed, but need confirmation. With a view to finding out the evolutionary antecedents, we visit the CART systems in sub-mammalian vertebrates and seek the answer why the system is shaped the way it is. We enquire into the conservation of the CART system and appreciate its functional diversity across the phyla.