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J Comp Physiol A. 1993 May;172(5):565-72.

A biochemical characterization of the photophore lenses of the midshipman fish, Porichthys notatus Girard.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90089-0371.


The present study is a biochemical characterization of the photophore lenses of the midshipman fish, Porichthys notatus, a species that bears 800 photophores distributed over the body surface. The biochemical properties of the photophore lenses were compared with those of the eye lens with which they share a similar developmental origin and analogous function. To achieve a high refractive index, the vertebrate eye lens has a relatively high concentration of structural proteins (20-50%, depending on species) and a simple protein composition, that is, relatively few proteins are synthesized in comparison to other tissues. Similarly, the photophore lenses of P. notatus had a relatively high protein concentration (average = 29%, n = 5) and approximately 60% of the total soluble protein was represented by two subunit species of 33 kD and 35 kD on denaturing polyacrylamide gels. The structural proteins of the eye lens are of two principle types: 1) beta and gamma polypeptides which belong to vertebrate lens-specific crystallin families, and, 2) enzymes recruited into the lens which take on the function of structural proteins. Here, we report that the two major photophore lens subunits of 33 kD and 35 kD are biochemically similar to each other, but are clearly distinct from any of the previously characterized crystallins. Therefore, we propose that photophore lenses appear to recruit a novel protein.

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