Melanopsin, a Canonical Light Receptor, Mediates Thermal Activation of Clock Genes

Maria Nathália Moraes, Leonardo Vinícius Monteiro De Assis, Keila Karoline Magalhães-Marques, Maristela Oliveira Poletini, Leonardo Henrique Ribeiro Graciani De Lima, Ana Maria De Lauro Castrucci*

*Corresponding author for this work
18 Citations (Scopus)


Melanopsin (OPN4) is a photo-pigment found in a small subset of intrinsically photosensitive ganglion cells (ipRGCs) of the mammalian retina. These cells play a role in synchronizing the central circadian pacemaker to the astronomical day by conveying information about ambient light to the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus, the site of the master clock. We evaluated the effect of a heat stimulus (39.5 °C) on clock gene (Per1 and Bmal1) expression in cultured murine Melan-a melanocytes synchronized by medium changes, and in B16-F10 melanoma cells, in the presence of the selective OPN4 antagonist AA92593, or after OPN4 knockdown by small interfering RNA (siRNA). In addition, we evaluated the effects of heat shock on the localization of melanopsin by immunocytochemistry. In both cell lines melanopsin was found in a region capping the nucleus and heat shock did not affect its location. The heat-induced increase of Per1 expression was inhibited when melanopsin was pharmacologically blocked by AA92593 as well as when its protein expression was suppressed by siRNA in both Melan-a and B16-F10 cells. These data strongly suggest that melanopsin is required for thermo-reception, acting as a thermo-opsin that ultimately feeds the local circadian clock in mouse melanocytes and melanoma cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13977
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01.12.2017


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