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Nature. 1988 Jun 23;333(6175):779-82.

Transcript localization of four opsin genes in the three visual organs of Drosophila; RH2 is ocellus specific.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 91125.


Drosophila and other Dipteran flies have three different kinds of visual organs; in the adult a pair of compound eyes and three dorsal ocelli; and in the larva a pair of internal photoreceptor organs. They develop in distinct ways, yet have certain features in common. All three organs use retinal-derived chromophores, coupled to distinct opsins, to provide a diversity of spectral sensitivities. Four opsin genes have been identified thus far in Drosophila; Rh1, Rh2, Rh3 and Rh4 (refs 6-11). We have used in situ hybridization to study the messenger RNAs expressed by these four opsin genes in all three visual organs. Rh1, Rh3 and Rh4 are already known to be expressed in different subsets of cells in the compound eye. We found that, in contrast, opsin Rh2 is the predominant opsin expressed in the ocelli. Opsin Rh1 is known to be expressed in the larval photoreceptor. We found that Rh3 and Rh4 are as well, but not Rh2. The ocellar-specific gene expression of Rh2 is of particular interest for its possible bearing on the function of the ocellus.

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