The opsins of the vertebrate retina: insights from structural, biochemical, and evolutionary studies

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2007 Nov;64(22):2917-32. doi: 10.1007/s00018-007-7253-1.


The vertebrate retina contains several classes of visual pigments responsible for such diverse functions as image- and nonimage-forming vision, the entrainment of circadian cycles, and the pupilary light response. With vision being vital to the survival of many species, the elucidation of the structural and biochemical properties of visual pigments has been the focus of a large body of research that has led to rapid advances in the field of photoreception. In this review, the current understanding of the structure, function, biochemistry, and evolution of the opsins that make up the photopigments in the vertebrate retina will be reviewed. These include the rod and cone opsins, melanopsin, RGR, peropsin, and VA-opsin. The goal is to highlight important questions that have been answered and to define some of the remaining questions in the field that will provide future directions for research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Photobiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Conformation
  • Retina / chemistry*
  • Retina / physiology
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / chemistry
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / chemistry
  • Rod Opsins / chemistry*
  • Rod Opsins / classification
  • Rod Opsins / genetics*
  • Rod Opsins / physiology


  • Rod Opsins
  • melanopsin