Light-induced and circadian expressions of melanopsin genes opn4xa and opn4xb in the eyes of juvenile grass puffer Takifugu alboplumbeus


Animals regulate a variety of aspects of physiology according to environmental light conditions via nonvisual opsins such as melanopsin. In order to study photic regulation of fish physiology, expression changes of the genes for melanopsin (opn4xa and opn4xb) and effects of light on them were examined in juvenile grass puffer Takifugu alboplumbeus using quantitative real-time PCR. In the brain of juvenile fish, no significant diurnal nor circadian changes were observed in opn4x mRNA levels. On the other hand, in the eyes, the mRNA level of opn4xa showed a significant diurnal rhythm with a peak at Zeitgeber time (ZT) 4, while no apparent circadian changes were observed. The mRNA level of opn4xb in the eyes showed a diurnal change similar to that of opn4xa, while it showed a significant circadian change. Furthermore, continuous exposure to light during a subjective night significantly increased the mRNA levels of opn4xa in the eyes at ZT24, suggesting that light induces gene expression of opn4xa in the eyes and that the induction occurs only during the night-day transition period. These results suggest that Opn4xa and Opn4xb play differential roles in the eyes of juvenile grass puffer to mediate the physiological effects of environmental light information.

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Data availability

All data and materials are available at Niigata University. The nucleotide sequence data reported are available in the DDBJ/ENA/GenBank databases under accession numbers LC535119 and LC535120.


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This study was performed under the cooperative research program of Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology, Kanazawa University <17016, 18019>. This work was also partially supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 17K07486 (to T.K.) and 16H04812H (to H.A.).

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T.K., D.K., S.O., N.S., and H.A. designed the research study and interpreted the data; T.K. performed the experiments, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript; T.K. and H.A. revised the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Takashi Kitahashi.

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The fish were maintained and used in accordance with the guidance approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Niigata University, Niigata, Japan.

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Kitahashi, T., Kurokawa, D., Ogiso, S. et al. Light-induced and circadian expressions of melanopsin genes opn4xa and opn4xb in the eyes of juvenile grass puffer Takifugu alboplumbeus. Fish Physiol Biochem 47, 191–202 (2021).

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  • Circadian rhythm
  • Diurnal rhythm
  • Biological clock
  • Melanopsin
  • Photoreceptor
  • Light