Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 165, Issue 4, pp 553–563 | Cite as

A comparison of some photoreceptor characteristics in the pineal and retina

I. The Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix)
  • R. G. Foster
  • J. J. Schalken
  • A. M. Timmers
  • W. J. De Grip


Immunocytochemistry with a rod-specific antiserum was used to study the post-hatch development (2 days–300 days) of photoreceptor elements within the pineal of the Japanese quail. At all ages staining was restricted to limited numbers of pinealocytes scattered throughout the gland. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), with the same rod-specific antibody, was then used to obtain a quantitative measure of rod opsin in total eye and pineal extracts in both the developing retina and pineal. The opsin content of both tissues shows a marked increase during the first 30 days after hatch and then plateaued to 0.84±0.02 nmoles opsin in the eye and 2.20±0.11 pmoles opsin equivalents in the pineal. The increase in opsin in the retina may be associated with continued post-hatch development of the photoreceptors. We then attempted to demonstrate the presence of the rhodopsin chromophore within pineal and retinal extracts using HPLC analysis. In both retinal and pineal extracts, 11-cis retinaldehyde was identified and a light-induced shift from the 11-cis to the all-trans isomer was clearly shown. This analysis also allowed us to calculate the total content of 11-cis and all-trans retinaldehyde (derived from both rod and non-rod photoreceptors) of the eye and pineal (eye: 1.7±0.2 nmoles; pineal: 4.6±0.5 pmoles). In the quail eye, the total amount of retinaldehyde is more than twice the amount of rod-like opsin. This probably reflects the large contribution of cones in the quail retina; the cone pigments will contribute to the retinaldehyde content but are not recognized by the rodspecific antibodies. In the pineal, we also found more than double the concentration of retinaldehyde than we would have predicted from the amount of rod-like opsin. These results, coupled with our immunocytochemical findings, suggest that the quail pineal contains at least two classes of photoreceptor, some ‘rod-like’, others ‘non rod-like’.


Retina Total Content Large Contribution Japanese Quail Cone Pigment 
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high-performance liquid chromatography


enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. G. Foster
    • 1
  • J. J. Schalken
    • 2
  • A. M. Timmers
    • 2
  • W. J. De Grip
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Gilmer HallUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry, Center for Eye ResearchUniversity of NijmegenHB NijmegenThe Netherlands

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