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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Dec 21;107(51):22084-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012498107. Epub 2010 Dec 6.

Opn5 is a UV-sensitive bistable pigment that couples with Gi subtype of G protein.

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Department of Biophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


Opn5 (neuropsin) belongs to an independent group separated from the other six groups in the phylogenetic tree of opsins, for which little information of absorption characteristics and molecular properties of the members is available. Here we show that the chicken Opn5 (cOpn5m) is a UV-sensitive bistable pigment that couples with Gi subtype of G protein. The recombinant expression of cOpn5m in HEK 293s cells followed by the addition of 11-cis- and all-trans-retinal produced UV light-absorbing and visible light-absorbing forms, respectively. These forms were interconvertible by UV and visible light irradiations, respectively, indicating that cOpn5m is a bistable pigment. The absorption maxima of these forms were estimated to be 360 and 474 nm, respectively. The GTPγS binding assay clearly showed that the visible light-absorbing form having all-trans-retinal activates Gi type of G protein, whereas no Gt or Gq activation ability was observed. Immunohistochemical studies using an antibody against cOpn5m clearly showed that this pigment is localized within some types of amacrine cells and some cells in the ganglion cell layer of the retinas, the vast majority of cells in the pineal gland and serotonin-positive cells in the paraventricular organ. Because cOpn5m is the only UV-sensitive opsin among the opsins found so far in chicken, this study provides the molecular basis for UV reception in chicken.

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