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    Opsins play a key role in the ability to sense light both in image-forming vision and in non-visual photoreception (NVP). These modalities, in most animal phyla, share the photoreceptor protein: an opsin-based protein binding a light-sensitive chromophore by a lysine (Lys) residue. So far, visual and non-visual opsins have been discovered throughout the Metazoa phyla, including the photoresponsive Hydra, an eyeless cnidarian considered the evolutionary sister species to bilaterians. To verify whether light influences and modulates opsin gene expression in Hydra, we utilized four expression sequence tags, similar to two classic opsins (SW rhodopsin and SW blue-sensitive opsin) and two non-visual opsins (melanopsin and peropsin), in investigating the expression patterns during both diurnal and circadian time, by means of a quantitative RT-PCR. The expression levels of all four genes fluctuated along the light hours of diurnal cycle with respect to the darkness one and, in constant dark condition of the circadian cycle, they increased. The monophasic behavior in the L12:D12 cycle turned into a triphasic expression profile during the continuous darkness condition. Consequently, while the diurnal opsin-like expression revealed a close dependence on light hours, the highest transcript levels were found in darkness, leading us to novel hypothesis that in Hydra, an "internal" biological rhythm autonomously supplies the opsins expression during the circadian time. In conclusion, in Hydra, both diurnal and circadian rhythms apparently regulate the expression of the so-called visual and non-visual opsins, as already demonstrated in higher invertebrate and vertebrate species. Our data confirm that Hydra is a suitable model for studying ancestral precursor of both visual and NVP, providing useful hints on the evolution of visual and photosensory systems. © 2024 the author(s), published by De Gruyter.


    Silvia Santillo, Luciano De Petrocellis, Carlo Musio. Diurnal and circadian regulation of opsin-like transcripts in the eyeless cnidarian Hydra. Biomolecular concepts. 2024 Jan 01;15(1)

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    PMID: 38502542

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