1932

Abstract

We live on a planet that is bathed in daily and seasonal sunlight cycles. In this context, terrestrial life forms have evolved mechanisms that directly harness light energy (plants) or decode light information for adaptive advantage. In animals, the main light sensors are a family of G protein–coupled receptors called opsins. Opsin function is best described for the visual sense. However, most animals also use opsins for extraocular light sensing for seasonal behavior and camouflage. While it has long been believed that mammals do not have an extraocular light sensing capacity, recent evidence suggests otherwise. Notably, encephalopsin (OPN3) and neuropsin (OPN5) are both known to mediate extraocular light sensing in mice. Examples of this mediation include photoentrainment of circadian clocks in skin (by OPN5) and acute light-dependent regulation of metabolic pathways (by OPN3 and OPN5). This review summarizes current findings in the expanding field of extraocular photoreception and their relevance for human physiology.

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2023-09-15
2024-06-13
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