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Genetics. Oct 1999; 153(2): 919–932.
PMCID: PMC1460773

The molecular genetics of red and green color vision in mammals.


To elucidate the molecular mechanisms of red-green color vision in mammals, we have cloned and sequenced the red and green opsin cDNAs of cat (Felis catus), horse (Equus caballus), gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). These opsins were expressed in COS1 cells and reconstituted with 11-cis-retinal. The purified visual pigments of the cat, horse, squirrel, deer, and guinea pig have lambdamax values at 553, 545, 532, 531, and 516 nm, respectively, which are precise to within +/-1 nm. We also regenerated the "true" red pigment of goldfish (Carassius auratus), which has a lambdamax value at 559 +/- 4 nm. Multiple linear regression analyses show that S180A, H197Y, Y277F, T285A, and A308S shift the lambdamax values of the red and green pigments in mammals toward blue by 7, 28, 7, 15, and 16 nm, respectively, and the reverse amino acid changes toward red by the same extents. The additive effects of these amino acid changes fully explain the red-green color vision in a wide range of mammalian species, goldfish, American chameleon (Anolis carolinensis), and pigeon (Columba livia).

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Selected References

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