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Biophys Chem. 1994 May;50(1-2):17-24.

Molecular basis for color vision.

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Department of Information Systems Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Osaka Sangyo University, Japan.


Amino acid sequences of four kinds of chicken cone pigments and two kinds of nocturnal gecko visual pigment were determined. Calculations of amino acid identities indicate that gecko pigments should be cone pigments. A phylogenetic tree of visual pigments constructed demonstrated that cone pigments evolved earlier than rod pigments (rhodopsins), indicating that daylight vision including color vision appeared earlier than twilight vision. The divergence of cone pigments to rhodopsins would be caused by replacing basic amino acid residues to acidic ones according to net charge calculations. A comparison between chicken rhodopsin and cone pigments (chicken green and red) displayed that the cone pigments are faster in regeneration from 11-cis retinal and opsin, faster in formation of meta II-intermediate and shorter in lifetime of meta II-intermediate than rhodopsin. These facts would partly explain the rapid dark adaptation, the rapid light response and the low photosensitivity of cones compared with rods. In comparison with di- and tri-chromatic color visions, chicken tetra-chromatic vision was discussed on the basis of both absorption spectra of cone pigments and filtering effect of oil droplets.

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