Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an additional function: They not only exist in eyes, but also in mechanoreceptors along the body, where they control body movements. The results were published in Neuron.
Coordinated locomotion requires mechanoreceptors that inform animals about their body movements. By analyzing locomotion in Drosophila fruit fly larvae, the scientists found that this locomotion control requires visual opsins, the visual photopigment proteins.
Without opsins, the mechanoreceptors no longer responded to mechanical stimuli – Drosophila larvae lacking visual opsin proteins were found to hardly crawl and to be unable to perform coordinated body movements.
“Within the mechanoreceptors, opsin proteins serve structural roles instead of detecting light,” explains Diego Giraldo, PhD student at Göttingen University’s Department of Cellular Neurobiology. “These opsins apparently organize cilia. Without them, the cilia degenerate and ion channels leak out from the cilia.”
According to the researchers, finding opsins in mechanosensory cells is evolutionarily not that surprising. Because the mechanoreceptors are closely related to photoreceptors, the new discovery seems to close an evolutionary gap.
“We always thought that the different photopigment proteins evolved to monitor different colors of light,” says Dr. Bart Geurten, one of the lead authors of the publication. “We now find that all these opsins occur together in mechanoreceptor cells, indicating that they are older than their use for color vision.”
That the mechanosensory roles of photopigments are indeed millions of years old is supported by recent work on vertebrates. How exactly opsins contribute to cilium maintenance is currently being investigated.
Original publication. Damiano Zanini et al. Proprioceptive opsin functions in Drosophila larval locomotion. Neuron 2018. Doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.02.028.
Prof. Dr. Martin Göpfert
Georg-August-University of Göttingen
Faculty of Biology and Psychology
Department of Cellular Neurobiology
Phone +49 551 39-177955
Thomas Richter | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Too much of a good thing: overactive immune cells trigger inflammation
16.09.2019 | Universität Basel
The sleep neuron in threadworms is also a stop neuron
16.09.2019 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.
This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.
Two research teams have succeeded simultaneously in measuring the long-sought Thorium nuclear transition, which enables extremely precise nuclear clocks. TU Wien (Vienna) is part of both teams.
If you want to build the most accurate clock in the world, you need something that "ticks" very fast and extremely precise. In an atomic clock, electrons are...
Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology have demonstrated a detector made from graphene that could revolutionize the sensors used in next-generation space telescopes. The findings were recently published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.
Beyond superconductors, there are few materials that can fulfill the requirements needed for making ultra-sensitive and fast terahertz (THz) detectors for...
A supersolid is a state of matter that can be described in simplified terms as being solid and liquid at the same time. In recent years, extensive efforts have been devoted to the detection of this exotic quantum matter. A research team led by Tilman Pfau and Tim Langen at the 5th Institute of Physics of the University of Stuttgart has succeeded in proving experimentally that the long-sought supersolid state of matter exists. The researchers report their results in Nature magazine.
In our everyday lives, we are familiar with matter existing in three different states: solid, liquid, or gas. However, if matter is cooled down to extremely...
10.09.2019 | Event News
04.09.2019 | Event News
29.08.2019 | Event News
16.09.2019 | Life Sciences
16.09.2019 | Materials Sciences
16.09.2019 | Health and Medicine