We have isolated a cDNA clone encoding a deep brain photoreceptive molecule from the hypothalamic cDNA library of the toad, Bufo japonicus. The deduced amino acid sequence showed the highest similarity to that of pinopsin (75-76%) among vertebrate retinal opsins, indicating the expression of toad pinopsin in the deep brain. Antibodies raised against the C-terminal tail of toad pinopsin stained cell bodies and the knob-like structures of the cerebrospinal fluid-contacting neurons in the anterior preoptic nucleus. This region is known to play an important role in breeding behavior, suggesting that toad pinopsin acts as a photosensor for the photoperiodic gonadal response.
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