• arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase;
  • flatfish;
  • hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase;
  • orthodenticle homeobox 5;
  • pineal organ;
  • retina


Melatonin biosynthesis from serotonin involves the sequential activation of the arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) and hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase (HIOMT). Photoperiod synchronizes a daily rhythm in pineal and retinal melatonin secretion through controlling AANAT activity. Teleost fish possess two Aanat, one expressed in the retina (AANAT1) and the other expressed in the pineal gland (AANAT2). We report here the full-length cloning of Aanat1, Aanat2, SmHiomt and Otx5 (orthodenticle homeobox homolog 5) in the turbot (Scophthalmus maximus, Sm), a flatfish belonging to an evolutionary recent group of Teleost. The temporal expression pattern of the genes investigated is consistent with the idea that OTX5 is needed for photoreceptor specification, and that the pineal gland differentiates before the retina. SmAanat2 expression remained pineal specific during the period of time investigated, whereas SmOtx5 and SmHiomt expressions were seen in both the retina and pineal gland. Our results do not support the existence of a second SmHiomt, as is the case for SmAanat. Neither SmAanat2 nor SmHiomt mRNAs displayed cyclic accumulation in the pineal organ of embryos and larvae maintained under a light–dark cycle from fertilization onward. This is in marked contrast with the situation observed with zebrafish Aanat2, indicating that the molecular mechanisms controlling the development of the pineal melatonin system have been modified during the evolution of Teleost.