Pinopsin evolved as the ancestral dim-light visual opsin in vertebrates

Keita Sato, Takahiro Yamashita, Keiichi Kojima, Kazumi Sakai, Yuki Matsutani, Masataka Yanagawa, Yumiko Yamano, Akimori Wada, Naoyuki Iwabe, Hideyo Ohuchi, Yoshinori Shichida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Pinopsin is the opsin most closely related to vertebrate visual pigments on the phylogenetic tree. This opsin has been discovered among many vertebrates, except mammals and teleosts, and was thought to exclusively function in their brain for extraocular photoreception. Here, we show the possibility that pinopsin also contributes to scotopic vision in some vertebrate species. Pinopsin is distributed in the retina of non-teleost fishes and frogs, especially in their rod photoreceptor cells, in addition to their brain. Moreover, the retinal chromophore of pinopsin exhibits a thermal isomerization rate considerably lower than those of cone visual pigments, but comparable to that of rhodopsin. Therefore, pinopsin can function as a rhodopsin-like visual pigment in the retinas of these lower vertebrates. Since pinopsin diversified before the branching of rhodopsin on the phylogenetic tree, two-step adaptation to scotopic vision would have occurred through the independent acquisition of pinopsin and rhodopsin by the vertebrate lineage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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