Mechanism of pineal-specific gene expression: The role of E-box and photoreceptor conserved elements

Lior Appelbaum, Yoav Gothilf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Photoreceptor cells of the pineal gland express distinct sets of proteins dedicated to photoreception, phototransduction and to rhythmic melatonin production. This review discusses the function of key regulatory sequences and nuclear factors that determine tissue-restricted expression of photoreceptor genes, specifically, the photoreceptor conserved element (PCE) and the E-box and their cognate binding proteins. Recent research in zebrafish revealed that PCE and E-box mediate the action of OTX5 and BMAL/CLOCK, respectively. These transcription factors drive enhanced expression of serotonin-N-acetyltransferase-2 (aanat2) in the pineal gland by synergistic interaction. Extensive research of other photoreceptor-specific genes suggested that the presence of several PCEs along with additional sequence elements is required to drive enhanced tissue-specific expression of these genes. Therefore, the mechanism identified for zebrafish aanat2, or at least part of it, may apply to other photoreceptor-specific genes in zebrafish and other species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 27 Jun 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Dr. David Klein, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health for his guidance and support and Dr. Ruben Baler, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, for his inspiring ideas and discussions and for helpful comments on this manuscript. This study was supported by Grant No. 2001132 from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), Jerusalem, Israel and the Adams Super Center for Brain Studies, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.


  • Melatonin
  • Photoreceptor
  • Pineal
  • Retina
  • Serotonin-N-acetyltransferase
  • Zebrafish


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