Indexed on: 16 May '02Published on: 16 May '02Published in: Zoological science
It is well characterized that melanophores in the tail fin of Xenopus laevis tadpoles are directly photosensitive. In order to better understand the mechanism underlying this direct photosensitivity, we performed a retinal analysis of the tail fins and eyes of Xenopus tadpoles at stages 51-56 using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Following the extraction of retinoids by the formaldehyde method, a fraction containing retinal and/or 3,4-didehydroretinal isomers from the first HPLC analysis were collected. These isomers were then reduced by sodium borohydride to convert retinal and/or 3,4-didehydroretinal isomers into the corresponding retinol isomers to prepare for a second HPLC analysis. Peaks of 11-cis and all-trans 3,4-didehydroretinol were detected in the eyes and tail fins containing melanophores, but they were not detected in the tail fins without melanophores. The amounts of 11-cis and all-trans 3,4-didehydroretinol were 27.5 and 5.7 fmol/fin, respectively, and the total quantity of 3,4-didehydroretinal was calculated at approximately 5 x 10(6) molecules/melanophore. These results strongly suggest the presence of 11-cis and all-trans 3,4-didehydroretinal in melanophores of the tadpole tail fin, which probably function as the chromophore of photoreceptive molecules.