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Brain Res. 1992 Nov 6;595(1):57-66.

Recoverin in pineal organs and retinae of various vertebrate species including man.

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  • 1Section on Neuroendocrinology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Recoverin is a recently discovered 26 kDa calcium-binding protein, which activates guanylate cyclase in retinal photoreceptors when the intracellular concentration of free calcium drops upon photoexcitation. In this study we examined the distribution of recoverin in retinae and pineal organs of Xenopus laevis larvae, 1-day-old chicken, adult pigeon, albino rat, sheep and man by means of immunocytochemistry. Recoverin immunoreaction was found in all species investigated except for the chicken. In the retina, recoverin immunoreaction was restricted to photoreceptors; all other cell types were immunonegative. In the pineal organ, the recoverin immunoreaction labeled 'pinealocytes of the sensory line', i.e. classical pineal photoreceptors of Xenopus laevis larvae, modified pineal photoreceptors of pigeon, and pinealocytes of mammals. The number of recoverin immunoreactive pinealocytes varied considerably among species of mammals: very few cells were stained in the rat pineal organ, whereas in rabbit, sheep and man, numerous pinealocytes were found to be recoverin-immunoreactive. No immunocytochemical staining was observed after preabsorption of the recoverin antibody with the recombinant protein. Immunoblotting experiments showed that the immunoreaction is due to a protein of 26 kDa in both retina and pineal tissue. Thus, recoverin appears to belong to the family of proteins which are expressed in both retina and pineal organ and are highly conserved in the course of phylogeny. Recoverin may be involved in phototransduction in the directly light-sensitive pineal organs of poikilothermic vertebrates and birds. However, the functional role of recoverin in the mammalian pineal organ, which is not photosensitive, remains unknown.

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