Glial cells expressing visual cycle genes are vital for photoreceptor survival in the zebrafish pineal gland

Yotam Elazary, Kathleen Cheow, Ruey Kuang Cheng, Raghumoy Ghosh, Inbal Shainer, Yair Wexler, Karen Crasta, Yoav Gothilf, Suresh J. Jesuthasan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Photoreceptors in the vertebrate eye are dependent on the retinal pigmented epithelium for a variety of functions including retinal re-isomerization and waste disposal. The light-sensitive pineal gland of fish, birds, and amphibians is evolutionarily related to the eye but lacks a pigmented epithelium. Thus, it is unclear how these functions are performed. Here, we ask whether a subpopulation of zebrafish pineal cells, which express glial markers and visual cycle genes, is involved in maintaining photoreceptors. Selective ablation of these cells leads to a loss of pineal photoreceptors. Moreover, these cells internalize exorhodopsin that is secreted by pineal rod-like photoreceptors, and in turn release CD63-positive extracellular vesicles (EVs) that are taken up by pdgfrb-positive phagocytic cells in the forebrain meninges. These results identify a subpopulation of glial cells that is critical for pineal photoreceptor survival and indicate the existence of cells in the forebrain meninges that receive EVs released by these pineal cells and potentially function in waste disposal.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12854
JournalJournal of Pineal Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2023


FundersFunder number
National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center
National Research Foundation SingaporeNRF2017‐NRF‐ISF002‐2676, 6276/17
Ministry of Education - SingaporeRG34/20
Israel Science Foundation


    • clearance
    • extracellular vesicles
    • glia
    • meninges
    • rhodopsin
    • visual cycle


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