Regulatory function of conserved sequences upstream of the long-wave sensitive opsin genes in teleost fishes

Kevin J. Tam, Corey T. Watson, Shabnam Massah, Addie M. Kolybaba, Felix Breden, Gratien G. Prefontaine, Timothy V. Beischlag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Vertebrate opsin genes often occur in sets of tandem duplicates, and their expression varies developmentally and in response to environmental cues. We previously identified two highly conserved regions upstream of the long-wave sensitive opsin (LWS) gene cluster in teleosts. This region has since been shown in zebrafish to drive expression of LWS genes in vivo. In order to further investigate how elements in this region control opsin gene expression, we tested constructs encompassing the highly conserved regions and the less conserved portions upstream of the coding sequences in a promoter-less luciferase expression system. A ~4500. bp construct of the upstream region, including the highly-conserved regions Reg I and Reg II, increased expression 100-fold, and successive 5' deletions reduced expression relative to the full 4.5. Kb region. Gene expression was highest when the transcription factor RORα was co-transfected with the proposed regulatory regions. Because these regions were tested in a promoter-less expression system, they include elements able to initiate and drive transcription. Teleosts exhibit complex color-mediated adaptive behavior and their adaptive significance has been well documented in several species. Therefore these upstream regions of LWS represent a model system for understanding the molecular basis of adaptive variation in gene regulation of color vision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2295-2303
Number of pages9
JournalVision Research
Issue number21-22
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Color vision
  • Opsins
  • Retinoic acid orphan receptor
  • Teleosts
  • Transcriptional regulation


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