Parapinopsin, a novel catfish opsin localized to the parapineal organ, defines a new gene family

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Multiple sites of extraretinal photoreception are present in vertebrates, but the molecular basis of extraretinal phototransduction is poorly understood. This study reports the cloning of the first opsin specifically expressed in the directly photosensitive pineal and parapineal of cold-blooded vertebrates. This opsin, identified in channel catfish and termed parapinopsin, defines a new gene family of vertebrate photopigments and is expressed in a majority of parapinealocytes and a subset of pineal photoreceptor cells. Parapinopsin shows a caudal-rostral gradient of expression within the pineal organ. This study also reports the cloning of partial cDNAs encoding the channel catfish orthologues of rhodopsin and the red cone pigment-the full complement of retinal opsins in the species. In situ hybridization studies using probes derived from these retinal opsins, together with parapinopsin, reveal no expression of retinal opsins in pineal and parapineal organ and no expression of any opsin tested in the 'deep brain,' iris, or dermal melanophores. These data imply that phototransduction in these sites of extraretinal photoreception must be mediated by novel opsins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8083-8092
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1997


  • Deep brain
  • Extraretinal
  • In situ hybridization
  • Iris
  • Opsin
  • Parapineal
  • Parapinopsin
  • Pineal
  • Skin
  • Taste bud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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