vertebrate melanopsins (Opsin-4), member of the class A family of seven-transmembrane G protein-coupled receptors
Melanopsin (also called Opsin-4) is the G protein-coupled photopigment that mediates non-visual responses to light. In mammals, these photoresponses include the photo-entrainment of circadian rhythm, pupillary constriction, and acute nocturnal melatonin suppression. Mammalian melanopsins are expressed only in the inner retina, whereas non-mammalian vertebrate melanopsins are localized in various extra-retinal tissues such as iris, brain, pineal gland, and skin. Melanopsins belong the class A of the G protein-coupled receptors and possess seven-transmembrane (TM) alpha-helices interconnected by three extracellular and three intracellular loops.