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  • A novel rod-like opsin isolated from the extra-retinal photoreceptors of teleost fish.

    27 November 2018

    We have isolated a novel opsin from the pineal complex of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and from the brain of the puffer fish (Fugu rubripes). These extra-retinal opsins share approximately 74% identity at the nucleotide and amino acid level with rod-opsins from the retina of these species. By PCR, we have determined that the novel rod-like opsin is not expressed in the salmon retina, and the retinal rod-opsin is not expressed in the salmon pineal. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the rod-like opsins arose from a gene duplication event approximately 205 million years ago, a time of considerable adaptive radiation of the bony fish. In view of the large differences in the coding sequences of the pineal/brain rod-like opsins, their extra-retinal sites of expression, and phylogenetic position we have termed these novel opsins 'extra-retinal rod-like opsins' (ERrod-like opsins). We speculate that the differences between retinal rod-opsins and ERrod-like opsins have arisen from their differing photosensory roles and/or genetic drift after the gene duplication event in the Triassic.

  • The persistence of cone photoreceptors within the dorsal retina of aged retinally degenerate mice (rd/rd): implications for circadian organization.

    27 November 2018

    Rod- and cone-opsin specific antibodies were used in an attempt to immunolabel remaining photoreceptor cells in the mutant rd (retinal degeneration) mouse retina. We identified a region-specific distribution in the pattern of photoreceptor degeneration, with the dorsal retina showing markedly less photoreceptor degeneration than the ventral retina. All rod and cone immunoreactive cells disappeared in the ventral retina by 100-120 days of age. By contrast, both cone and a small number of rod immunopositive cells were identified in the dorsal retina at this time. By 200 days all rod immunoreactive cells had disappeared. At 360 days numerous cone immunoreactive cells remained within a restricted region of the dorsal retina. As rd mice show unattenuated circadian responses to light, these remaining photoreceptor cells within the dorsal retina become candidates for the regulation of circadian physiology by light.

  • In silico characterisation and chromosomal localisation of human RRH (peropsin)--implications for opsin evolution.

    27 November 2018

    BACKGROUND: The vertebrate opsins are proteins which utilise a retinaldehyde chromophore in their photosensory or photoisomerase roles in the visual/irradiance detection cycle. The majority of the opsins, such as rod and cone opsins, have a very highly conserved gene structure suggesting a common lineage. Exceptions to this are RGR-opsin and melanopsin, whose genes have very different intron insertion positions. The gene structure of another opsin, peropsin (retinal pigment epithelium-derived rhodopsin homologue, RRH) is unknown. RESULTS: By in silico analysis of the GenBank database we have determined that the human RRH comprises 7 exons spanning approximately 16.5 kb and is localised to chromosome 4q25 in the following gene sequence: cen-EGF-RRH-IF-qter - a position that excludes this gene as a candidate for the RP29 autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa locus. A comparison of opsin gene structures reveals that RRH and RGR share two common intron (introns 1 and 4) insertion positions which may reflect a shared ancestral gene. CONCLUSION: The opsins comprise a diverse group of genes which appear to have arisen from three different lineages. These lineages comprise the "classical opsin superfamily" which includes the rod and cone opsins, pinopsin, VA-opsin, parapinopsin and encephalopsin; the RRH and RGR group; and the melanopsin line. A common lineage for RRH and RGR, together with their sites of expression in the RPE, indicates that peropsin may act as a retinal isomerase.

  • Transplanted suprachiasmatic nucleus determines circadian period.

    27 November 2018

    The pacemaker role of the suprachiasmatic nucleus in a mammalian circadian system was tested by neural transplantation by using a mutant strain of hamster that shows a short circadian period. Small neural grafts from the suprachiasmatic region restored circadian rhythms to arrhythmic animals whose own nucleus had been ablated. The restored rhythms always exhibited the period of the donor genotype regardless of the direction of the transplant or genotype of the host. The basic period of the overt circadian rhythm therefore is determined by cells of the suprachiasmatic region.

  • Annual rhythms that underlie phenology: biological time-keeping meets environmental change.

    27 November 2018

    Seasonal recurrence of biological processes (phenology) and its relationship to environmental change is recognized as being of key scientific and public concern, but its current study largely overlooks the extent to which phenology is based on biological time-keeping mechanisms. We highlight the relevance of physiological and neurobiological regulation for organisms' responsiveness to environmental conditions. Focusing on avian and mammalian examples, we describe circannual rhythmicity of reproduction, migration and hibernation, and address responses of animals to photic and thermal conditions. Climate change and urbanization are used as urgent examples of anthropogenic influences that put biological timing systems under pressure. We furthermore propose that consideration of Homo sapiens as principally a 'seasonal animal' can inspire new perspectives for understanding medical and psychological problems.

  • Opsins and melanopsins.

    27 November 2018

  • Best daze of your life

    27 November 2018

  • Spectral tuning of a circadian photopigment in a subterranean 'blind' mammal (Spalax ehrenbergi).

    27 November 2018

    The atrophied subcutaneous eyes of Spalax ehrenbergi (the blind mole rat) express a long wavelength sensitive (LWS) cone opsin. Our data provide strong evidence that this photopigment is spectrally tuned to enhance photon capture in the red light environment of the eye. Furthermore, novel mechanisms appear partially responsible for this sensory fine-tuning. These data support the hypothesis that the LWS opsin of Spalax acts as a functional photopigment and that it is not a 'residue' of the pre-subterranean visual system. As the eye of Spalax has only one known function, the entrainment of circadian rhythms to environmental light, the LWS photopigment is implicated in this task. These results, together with our recent findings that rod and cone photopigments are not required for murine photoentrainment, suggest that multiple photopigments (classical and novel) mediate the effects of light on the mammalian circadian system.

  • NMDA receptor antagonists block the effects of light on circadian behavior in the mouse.

    27 November 2018

    We report here the results of experiments designed to evaluate whether NMDA receptors mediate the phase shifting effects of light on the circadian rhythm of wheel-running activity in mice. Intraperitoneal administration of either the non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist, (+)-5-methyl-10,11-dihydro-5H-dibenzo[a,b]cyclohepten-5,10-imine maleate (MK-801), or the competitive NMDA receptor antagonist, 3(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonic acid (CPP) blocked light-induced phase advances and delays. Neither drug, by itself, caused any consistent effect on the phase of the rhythm. Furthermore, there was no significant difference between the effects of MK-801 on light-induced phase shifts in a retinally degenerate and retinally normal strain of C57 mouse. These data, coupled with previous findings, indicate that excitatory amino acid receptors play an important role in the transmission of light information from the retina to the circadian system.

  • Sequence, genomic structure and tissue expression of carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) vertebrate ancient (VA) opsin.

    27 November 2018

    We report the isolation and characterisation of a novel opsin cDNA from the retina and pineal of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.). When a comparison of the amino acid sequences of salmon vertebrate ancient opsin (sVA) and the novel carp opsin are made, and the carboxyl terminus is omitted, the level of identity between these two opsins is 81% and represents the second example of the VA opsin family. We have therefore termed this C. carpio opsin as carp VA opsin (cVA opsin). We show that members of the VA opsin family may exist in two variants or isoforms based upon the length of the carboxyl terminus and propose that the mechanism of production of the short VA opsin isoform is alternative splicing of intron 4 of the VA opsin gene. The VA opsin gene consists of five exons, with intron 2 significantly shifted in a 3' direction relative to the corresponding intron in rod and cone opsins. The position (or lack) of intron 2 appears to be a diagnostic feature which separates the image forming rod and cone opsin families from the more recently discovered non-visual opsin families (pin-opsins (P), vertebrate ancient (VA), parapinopsin (PP)). Finally, we suggest that lamprey P opsin should be reassigned to the VA opsin family based upon its level of amino acid identity, genomic structure with respect to the position of intron 2 and nucleotide phylogeny.