Navigation Links
Lizard 'third eye' sheds light on evolution of color vision

Published in the March 17 issue of Science, their lizard study describes how the "side-blotched" lizard's so-called third, or parietal, eye, distinguishes two different colors, blue and green, possibly to tell the time of day. Specialized nerve cells in that eye, which looks more like a spot on the lizard's forehead, use two types of molecular signals to sense light: those found only in simpler animals, like scallops, and those found only in more complex animals like humans.

Although the blue-green color comparison method used by the parietal eye is not one shared by humans, it does reveal one potential step in the evolution of color vision, the Hopkins researchers say.

Human light-reception cells responsible for color vision are called cone cells or photoreceptors, and they contain only one kind of pigment per cell - red, green, or blue. A color image results when light-triggered signals in the three different types of cone cells are compared by other nerve cells in the retina as well as the brain.

The lizard's parietal eye photoreceptors contain two pigments per cell, blue and green. Having two different pigments allows the cell to respond to two different colors of light and process that information within the same cell.

According to the researchers, when the lizard's third eye sees blue light, the blue pigment triggers a molecule called gustducin, which is very similar to a molecule found in human photoreceptors as well as the lateral eyes of the lizard - those on the sides of its head. But when the lizard's third eye sees green light, the green pigment triggers a different molecule called Go, known as "G-other," which also signals light responses in the light-sensing cells of the scallop and other creatures without a backbone. That Go is found in spineless creatures suggests it is the evolutionarily more ancient light-triggering signal.

Although gustducin and Go are different molecules, they are similar and considered "related" proteins. However, gustducin and Go each activate different molecular pathways that work against each other physiologically. Blue light and gustducin generate an "off" response in the nerve cell while green light and Go generate an "on" response.

"It may seem strange to have two opposing signals in the same cell," says the study's senior author, King-Wai Yau, Ph.D, a professor in the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at Hopkins, "but the unique mechanism renders these parietal photoreceptors most active at dawn and dusk."

"So incorporating two different pigments and two separate signaling molecules in one cell may have been an economical way, in a primitive eye with relatively few cell types, to tell the transitions of the day based on changes in the spectrum of sunlight," says Chih-Ying Su, Ph.D., the first author of the study and a former neuroscience graduate student at Hopkins.

"It's just like in a small company," says Yau. "You have to delegate each person to do more things."

By sharing features found in human photoreceptors as well as those found in simpler organisms like the scallop, the researchers propose that the lizard's parietal eye photoreceptor cells represent a "missing link" between the light-sensing apparatus in lower animals and ours.

It turns out that some frogs and fish also have a spot on their foreheads that might play the role of a light-sensing third eye. Yau hopes to pursue these structures to obtain more clues about how our photoreceptor cells, the rods and cones, came about. As he says, he's most curious about how the same function can be achieved in different ways in different animals.


'"/>

Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


Related biology news :

1. Lizards shout against a noisy background
2. Bacteria collection sheds light on urinary tract infections
3. Sea skate experiment sheds light on human cell transport
4. Bacterial genome sheds light on synthesizing cancer-fighting compounds
5. Newly discovered genetic disease sheds light on bodys water balance
6. Multi-species genome comparison sheds new light on evolutionary processes, cancer mutations
7. Gene discovery sheds light on causes of rare disease, cancer
8. Skull study sheds light on dinosaur diversity
9. OHSU discovery sheds light into how stem cells become brain cells
10. Clock molecules sensitivity to lithium sheds light on bipolar disorder
11. Newly identified protein complex sheds light on axon growth mechanism
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/30/2017)... June 30, 2017 Today, American Trucking ... supplier of face and eye tracking software, became ... provider program. "Artificial intelligence and ... to monitor a driver,s attentiveness levels while on ... able to detect fatigue and prevent potential accidents, ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... May 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation ... officially launched in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 ... and the USA . The technology was developed and ... by the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro ... Release, please click: ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... SINGAPORE , May 5, 2017 ... has just announced a new breakthrough in biometric ... that exploits quantum mechanical properties to perform ... new smart semiconductor material created by Ram Group ... across finance, entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... PA (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... year’s recipients of 13 prestigious awards honoring scientists who have ... presented in a scheduled symposium during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting in North ... in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ... winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... Arizona (PRWEB) , ... October ... ... 15 years’ experience providing advanced instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and ... in-house expertise in application consulting, Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... The ... and technology sector at their fourth annual Conference where founders, investors, innovative practitioners ... and the ELEVATE pitch competition showcasing early stage digital health and med tech ...
Breaking Biology Technology: