Two UV-Sensitive Photoreceptor Proteins, Opn5m and Opn5m2 in Ray-Finned Fish with Distinct Molecular Properties and Broad Distribution in the Retina and Brain

PLoS One. 2016 May 11;11(5):e0155339. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155339. eCollection 2016.


Opn5 is a group within the opsin family of proteins that is responsible for visual and non-visual photoreception in animals. It consists of several subgroups, including Opn5m, the only subgroup containing members found in most vertebrates, including mammals. In addition, recent genomic information has revealed that some ray-finned fishes carry paralogous genes of Opn5m while other fishes have no such genes. Here, we report the molecular properties of the opsin now called Opn5m2 and its distributions in both the retina and brain. Like Opn5m, Opn5m2 exhibits UV light-sensitivity when binding to 11-cis-retinal and forms a stable active state that couples with Gi subtype of G protein. However, Opn5m2 does not bind all-trans-retinal and exhibits exclusive binding to 11-cis-retinal, whereas many bistable opsins, including fish Opn5m, can bind directly to all-trans-retinal as well as 11-cis-retinal. Because medaka fish has lost the Opn5m2 gene from its genome, we compared the tissue distribution patterns of Opn5m in medaka fish, zebrafish, and spotted gar, in addition to the distribution patterns of Opn5m2 in zebrafish and spotted gar. Opn5m expression levels showed a gradient along the dorsal-ventral axis of the retina, and preferential expression was observed in the ventral retina in the three fishes. The levels of Opn5m2 showed a similar gradient with preferential expression observed in the dorsal retina. Opn5m expression was relatively abundant in the inner region of the inner nuclear layer, while Opn5m2 was expressed in the outer edge of the inner nuclear layer. Additionally, we could detect Opn5m expression in several brain regions, including the hypothalamus, of these fish species. Opn5m2 expression could not be detected in zebrafish brain, but was clearly observed in limited brain regions of spotted gar. These results suggest that ray-finned fishes can generally utilize UV light information for non-image-forming photoreception in a wide range of cells in the retina and brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Fins
  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / radiation effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Ligands
  • Opsins / genetics
  • Opsins / metabolism*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Oryzias
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Binding
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / radiation effects
  • Retinaldehyde / analogs & derivatives*
  • Retinaldehyde / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Vision, Ocular*
  • Zebrafish


  • Ligands
  • Opsins
  • retinal dimer
  • Retinaldehyde

Grant support

This work was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan, to YS (25251036), TY (15H00812 and 25440167), and grants from The Naito Foundation, Mochida Memorial Foundation for Medical and Pharmaceutical Research, The Shimizu Foundation for Immunology and Neuroscience and Takeda Science Foundation to TY (MEXT:; Naito Foundation:; Mochida Memorial Foundation:; The Shimizu Foundation for Immunology and Neuroscience:; Takeda Science Foundation: