Symphony of rhythms in the Xenopus laevis retina

Microsc Res Tech. 2000 Sep 1;50(5):360-72. doi: 10.1002/1097-0029(20000901)50:5<360::AID-JEMT5>3.0.CO;2-B.


The photoreceptor layer in the retina of Xenopus laevis harbors a circadian clock. Many molecular components known to drive the molecular clock in other organisms have been identified in Xenopus, such as XClock, Xper2, and Xcrys, demonstrating phylogenetic conservation. This model system displays a wide array of rhythms, including melatonin release, ERG rhythms, and retinomotor movements, suggesting that the ocular clock is important for proper retinal function. A flow-through culture system allows measurements of retinal rhythms such as melatonin release in vitro over time from a single eyecup. This system is suited for pharmacological perturbations of the clock, and has led to important observations regarding the circadian control of melatonin release, the roles of light and dopamine as entraining agents, and the circadian mechanisms regulating retinomotor movements. The development of a transgenic technique in Xenopus allows precise and reliable molecular perturbations. Since it is possible to follow rhythms in eyecups obtained from adults or tadpoles, the combination of the flow-through culture system and the transgenic technique leads to the fast generation of transgenic tadpoles to monitor the effects of molecular perturbations on the clock.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Melatonin / biosynthesis
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / physiology*
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Xenopus laevis / metabolism
  • Xenopus laevis / physiology*


  • Cyclic AMP
  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase
  • Melatonin
  • Dopamine