Phototransduction by vertebrate ultraviolet visual pigments: protonation of the retinylidene Schiff base following photobleaching

Biochemistry. 2002 Aug 6;41(31):9842-51. doi: 10.1021/bi025883g.


The photochemical and subsequent thermal reactions of the mouse short-wavelength visual pigment (MUV) were studied by using cryogenic UV-visible and FTIR difference spectroscopy. Upon illumination at 75 K, MUV forms a batho intermediate (lambda(max) approximately 380 nm). The batho intermediate thermally decays to the lumi intermediate (lambda(max) approximately 440 nm) via a slightly blue-shifted intermediate not observed in other photobleaching pathways, BL (lambda(max) approximately 375 nm), at temperatures greater than 180 K. The lumi intermediate has a significantly red-shifted absorption maximum at 440 nm, suggesting that the retinylidene Schiff base in this intermediate is protonated. The lumi intermediate decays to an even more red-shifted meta I intermediate (lambda(max) approximately 480 nm) which in turn decays to meta II (lambda(max) approximately 380 nm) at 248 K and above. Differential FTIR analysis of the 1100-1500 cm(-1) region reveals an integral absorptivity that is more than 3 times smaller than observed in rhodopsin and VCOP. These results are consistent with an unprotonated Schiff base chromophore. We conclude that the MUV-visual pigment possesses an unprotonated retinylidene Schiff base in the dark state, and undergoes a protonation event during the photobleaching cascade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cattle
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Photochemistry
  • Protons
  • Retinal Pigments / chemistry*
  • Retinoids / chemistry*


  • Protons
  • Retinal Pigments
  • Retinoids
  • retinylidene chromophore