Ciliary photoreceptors with a vertebrate-type opsin in an invertebrate brain

Science. 2004 Oct 29;306(5697):869-71. doi: 10.1126/science.1099955.


For vision, insect and vertebrate eyes use rhabdomeric and ciliary photoreceptor cells, respectively. These cells show distinct architecture and transduce the light signal by different phototransductory cascades. In the marine rag-worm Platynereis, we find both cell types: rhabdomeric photoreceptor cells in the eyes and ciliary photoreceptor cells in the brain. The latter use a photopigment closely related to vertebrate rod and cone opsins. Comparative analysis indicates that both types of photoreceptors, with distinct opsins, coexisted in Urbilateria, the last common ancestor of insects and vertebrates, and sheds new light on vertebrate eye evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Brain / cytology
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Eye / cytology
  • Gene Duplication
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / chemistry*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / cytology
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / chemistry
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / cytology
  • Phylogeny
  • Polychaeta / chemistry
  • Polychaeta / cytology*
  • Polychaeta / genetics*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Rod Opsins / analysis
  • Rod Opsins / chemistry*
  • Rod Opsins / genetics*


  • Rod Opsins