Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Does missing gene point to nocturnal existence for early mammals?

12.10.2006
A gene that makes cells in the eye receptive to light is missing in humans, researchers have discovered.

They say that whereas some animals like birds, fish and amphibians have two versions of this photoreceptor, mammals, including humans, only have one.

The findings – published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Biology – reveal how our experience of the light environment may be impoverished compared to other vertebrates and fits with the suggestion that early mammals were at one time wholly nocturnal creatures.

“The classical view of how the eye sees is through photoreceptive cells in the retina called rods and cones,” explained Dr Jim Bellingham, who led the research at The University of Manchester.

“But, recently, a third photoreceptor was discovered that is activated by a gene called melanopsin. This melanopsin photoreceptor is not linked to sight but uses light for non-visual processes, such as regulating our day-night rhythms and pupil constriction.”

Although the melanopsin gene is present in all vertebrates, the version in mammals was unusually different to that found in fish, amphibians and birds.

“At first, we put this genetic anomaly between mammals and other vertebrates down to evolutionary differences,” said Dr Bellingham, who is based in the Faculty of Life Sciences.

“But we have now learnt that other vertebrates have a second melanopsin gene – one that matches the one found earlier in mammals and humans. The first melanopsin gene found in the other classes of vertebrates does not exist in mammals.”

It is not yet clear how the functions of the two melanopsins differ but having different cone genes or ‘opsins’ allows vertebrates to detect different wavelengths of light and allows them to see colour.

The Manchester team now hope to find out whether the two melanopsin genes in non-mammals play similar or different roles in non-visual light detection and so provide clues as to the implications of only having one melanopsin gene.

“The two genes and their associated proteins have been maintained in vertebrates for hundreds of millions of years, only for one of them to be lost in mammals.

“We are keen to discover why this might have happened – perhaps the early mammals were at one stage nocturnal and had no need for the second gene, for instance. We also want to find out what losing one of these genes means for humans.”

Aeron Haworth | alfa
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

Further reports about: Melanopsin melanopsin gene nocturnal vertebrates

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>