Send to

Choose Destination
Commun Integr Biol. 2009 Sep;2(5):441-3.

Melanopsin-mediated light-sensing in amphioxus: a glimpse of the microvillar photoreceptor lineage within the deuterostomia.

Author information

Instituto de Genética, Woods Hole, MA, USA.


The two fundamental lineages of photoreceptor cells, microvillar and ciliary, were long thought to be a prerogative of invertebrate and vertebrate organisms, respectively. However evidence of their ancient origin, preceding the divergence of these two branches of metazoa, suggests instead that they should be ubiquitously distributed. Melanopsin-expressing 'circadian' light receptors may represent the remnants of the microvillar photo- receptors amongst vertebrates, but they lack the characteristic architecture of this lineage, and much remains to be clarified about their signaling mechanisms. Hesse and Joseph cells of the neuronal tube of amphioxus (Branchiostoma fl.)-the most basal chordate extant-turn out to be depolarizing primary microvillar photoreceptors, that generate a melanopsin-initiated, PLC-dependent response to light, mobilizing internal Ca and increasing a membrane conductance selective to Na and Ca ions. As such, they represent a canonical instance of invertebrate-like visual cells in the chordate phylum.


amphioxus; light transduction; melanopsin; photoreceptors; vision evolution


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center