Evolution and functional diversity of jellyfish opsins

Curr Biol. 2008 Jan 8;18(1):51-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.11.059. Epub 2007 Dec 20.


Cnidaria are the most basal animal phylum possessing complex eyes [1]. Their eyes predominantly use ciliary photoreceptor cells (c-PRCs) like vertebrates, whereas insect eyes use rhabdomeric photoreceptor cells (r-PRCs) [1-4]. These two cell types show not only different cytoarchitectures but distinct phototransduction cascades, which are triggered by the respective types of opsins (e.g., [5]), ciliary opsins (c-opsins) and rhabdomeric opsins (r-opsins) [6]. Recent reports suggested that the c- and r-PRCs and their respective opsins diverged at least before the deuterostome-protostome split [7-9]. To study the earlier evolution of animal PRCs and opsins, we investigated two hydrozoan jellyfishes. We report here the first-characterized cnidarian opsins. Molecular phylogeny revealed that the cloned 20 jellyfish opsins, together with all the opsins from a hydra and some from a sea anemone, are more closely related to the c-opsins than to any other major opsin subfamily, indicating that the divergence of c- and r-opsins antedates the Cnidaria-Bilateria split. Possible scenarios of animal PRC evolution are discussed. Furthermore, Cladonema opsins show several distinct tissue- and stage-specific expression patterns. The expression of specific opsins in the eyes suggests a role in vision, whereas that in the gonads suggests a role in light-controlled release of gametes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Eye / metabolism
  • Gonads / metabolism
  • Hydrozoa / metabolism*
  • Light
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Rod Opsins / chemistry
  • Rod Opsins / genetics
  • Rod Opsins / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / radiation effects
  • Vision, Ocular


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Rod Opsins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB332416
  • GENBANK/AB332417
  • GENBANK/AB332418
  • GENBANK/AB332419
  • GENBANK/AB332420
  • GENBANK/AB332421
  • GENBANK/AB332422
  • GENBANK/AB332423
  • GENBANK/AB332424
  • GENBANK/AB332425
  • GENBANK/AB332426
  • GENBANK/AB332427
  • GENBANK/AB332428
  • GENBANK/AB332429
  • GENBANK/AB332430
  • GENBANK/AB332431
  • GENBANK/AB332432
  • GENBANK/AB332433
  • GENBANK/AB332434
  • GENBANK/AB332435