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FEBS Lett. 1999 Feb 19;445(1):36-40.

Evolution of visual pigments in geckos.

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Department of Earth and Space Science, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Japan.


Most geckos are nocturnal forms and possess rod retinas, but some diurnal genera have pure-cone retinas. We isolated cDNAs encoding the diurnal gecko opsins, dg1 and dg2, similar to nocturnal gecko P521 and P467, respectively. Despite the large morphological differences between the diurnal and nocturnal gecko photoreceptor types, they express phylogenetically closely related opsins. These results provide molecular evidence for the reverse transmutation, that is, rods of an ancestral nocturnal gecko have backed into cones of diurnal geckos. The amino acid substitution rates of dgl and dg2 are higher than those of P521 and P467, respectively. Changes of behavior regarding photic environment may have contributed to acceleration of amino acid substitutions in the diurnal gecko opsins.

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