Molecular cloning of heterotrimeric G-protein α-subunits in chicken pineal gland

Toshiyuki Okano, Kazumitsu Yamazaki, Takaoki Kasahara, Yoshitaka Fukada

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15 Citations (Scopus)


The avian pinealocytes have an intrinsic circadian clock function that controls rhythmic synthesis of melatonin, and an environmental light signal can reset the phase of the clock. In addition to the photoendocrine function, the melatonin synthesis of the pinealocytes is regulated by neural signals from sympathetic nerves. Thus the avian pinealocytes show diagnostic characters which seem to represent an evolutionary transition from photosensory cells of lower vertebrates to the neuroendocrinal cells of mammals. To understand the evolutionary background of the regulatory mechanism for the melatonin synthesis in this organ, we screened the chicken pineal cDNA library to find α-subunits of heterotrimeric G-proteins involved in the photic and neural regulations. In addition to the transducin-like α-subunit (G,α) supposed to mediate the photic pathway, we isolated cDNA clones encoding Gi2α, Gi3α, and Gola and its splicing variant Go2α. The deduced amino acid sequence of each Gα had a potential site for pertussis toxin-catalyzed ADP-ribosylation. As it is known that adrenergic receptor-mediated inhibition of melatonin synthesis is blocked by pertussis toxin, the G-proteins identified in the present study are likely to contribute to this neuroendocrine function of the chicken pineal cells.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number1 Supplement
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Jan
Externally publishedYes



  • cAMP
  • cDNA cloning
  • Chicken
  • Circadian clock
  • G-protein
  • Melatonin
  • Photoendocrine
  • Pineal gland
  • Pinopsin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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