We have cloned a cDNA for a novel opsin from the larval brain of the silkworm Bombyx mori in which the photoperiodic photoreceptor had been supposed to reside in the cephalic central nervous system (CNS). Its deduced amino acid sequence was composed of 381 amino acids and included amino acid residues highly conserved in insect visual pigments. This opsin belonged to the long wavelength photoreceptor group of insect opsins and showed the greatest degree of homology (84%) with the green visual photoreceptor in the sphingid moth. We have designated this Bombyx cerebral opsin as Boceropsin. Southern blotting experiments indicated that the Boceropsin gene is present in a single copy, and RT-PCR analysis revealed that Boceropsin mRNA is expressed in the larval brain but not in the subesophageal ganglion (Sg) or thoracic ganglion (Tg). Immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated that Boceropsin protein is present bilaterally in some defined cells localized in the brain of Bombyx larvae. This is the first report of expression of an opsin-based protein in CNS of an insect. The possibility that the Boceropsin functions as the photoperiodic receptive pigment in the silkworm is also discussed.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.