Ishikawa Y, Inohaya K, Yamamoto N, Maruyama K, Yoshimoto M, Iigo M, Oishi T, Kudo A, Ito H.
The parapineal is present in many teleost families, while it is absent in several others. To find out why the parapineal is absent at adult stages in the latter families, the development of the epithalamus was examined in the medaka fish (Oryzias latipes). For this purpose, a green fluorescent protein-transgenic medaka line, in which the pineal complex (pineal and parapineal) is visible fluorescently, was used. We found that a distinct parapineal was present in the roof plate at early developmental stages. Subsequently, however, the parapineal and the associated roof plate began to be incorporated into the habenula between embryonic stages 28 and 29. Between embryonic stages 29 and 30, the entire parapineal was incorporated into the habenula. That is, the parapineal became a small caudomedial region (termed the 'parapineal domain') within the left habenula in the majority of embryos, resulting in the left-sided asymmetry of the epithalamus. Thereby the left habenula became larger and more complex than its right counterpart. In the minority of embryos, the parapineal was incorporated into the right habenula or into the habenulae on both sides. In the majority of embryos, the parapineal domain projected a fiber bundle to a subnucleus (termed the 'rostromedial subnucleus') in the left habenula. The rostromedial subnucleus sent axons, through the left fasciculus retroflexus, to the rostral region of the left half of the interpeduncular nucleus. We further found that the ratio of the left-sided phenotype was temperature dependent and decreased in embryos raised at a high temperature. The present study is the first demonstration that the supposed lack of a distinct parapineal in adult teleost fishes is due to ontogenetic incorporation into the habenula.