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Vis Neurosci. 2001 Sep-Oct;18(5):767-80.

Molecular cloning and characterization of five opsin genes from the marine flatfish Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus).

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Norway.


Most molecular studies on the visual system in fish have been performed on freshwater teleosts such as goldfish and zebrafish where cones and rods appear simultaneously. Many marine fishes have long larval phase in the upper pelagic zone before transformation into a juvenile and a benthic life style. The retina at the larval stages consists of only single cone cells; later during metamorphosis double cones and rods develop. The flatfish Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) is a typical example of a marine species with such a two-step retina development. In this study, we have cloned five different opsins from Atlantic halibut larvae and juvenile retinas. Sequence comparisons with other opsins and phylogenetic analysis show that the five genes belong to the opsins of long-wavelength sensitive (L); middle-wavelength sensitive, M(Cone) and M(Rod); and short-wavelength sensitive, S(Blue) and S(Ultraviolet), respectively. In situ hybridization analysis reveals expression in double cone (L and M(Cone)), single cone (S(Blue) and S(Ultraviolet)), and rod (M(Rod)) types of photoreceptor cells in juvenile halibut retina. The visual system in Atlantic halibut seems therefore to have all four types of cone photoreceptors in addition to rod photoreceptors. This work shows for the first time molecular isolation of a complete set of retinal visual pigment genes from a marine teleost and describes the first cloning of an ultraviolet-sensitive opsin type from a marine teleost.

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