The reflecting material of the tapetum lucidum of the sea catfish (Arius felis) was chromatographed on Sephadex LH-20 in methanol–dimethyl sulphoxide–formic acid. Two components were present: one, showing an absorption maximum at 330nm, was tapetal pigment; the other, at 257nm, was an associated nucleoside. The tapetal pigment was extracted in methanol–HCl and isolated by adsorption chromatography on Sephadex LH-20. It yielded a methoxy methyl ester on treatment with diazomethane, and permanganate oxidation gave pyrrole-2,3,5-tricarboxylic acid. From the information provided by u.v. and i.r. spectra of the pigment and its methoxy methyl ester, from elemental analyses and from the oxidation products, we suggest that the tapetal pigment is derived from oxidative coupling of 5,6-dihydroxyindole-2-carboxylic acid. A molecular-weight determination and chromatography of the methoxy methyl ester indicate that the pigment is a mixture of oligomers, among which the tetramers probably predominate. We consider that the monomers are joined mainly by C-C linkages at positions 4 and 7. A synthetic pigment having spectral properties nearly identical with those of the natural pigment was prepared by enzymic oxidation of 5,6-dihydroxyindole-2-carboxylic acid with mushroom tyrosinase. The identity of the tapetal pigment with the synthetic pigment was further confirmed by comparing u.v. and i.r. spectra of their methoxy methyl esters. Formation of the tapetal pigment from tyrosine and relationships of the tapetal pigment to melanin are discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.