Recently, much progress has been made in elucidating the chemistry and metabolism of retinoids and carotenoids, as well as the structures of processing proteins related to vision. Carotenoids and their retinoid metabolites are isoprenoids, so only a limited number of chemical transformations are possible, and just a few of these occur naturally. Although there is an intriguing evolutionary conservation of the key components involved in the production and recycling of chromophores, these genes have also adapted to the specific requirements of insect and vertebrate vision. These 'ancestral footprints' in animal genomes bear witness to the common origin of the chemistry of vision, and will further stimulate research across evolutionary boundaries.
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