Two different visual pigments in one retinal cone cell

Neuron. 1994 Nov;13(5):1159-66. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(94)90053-1.


The retina of the mouse, rabbit, and guinea pig is divided into a superior area dominated by green-sensitive (M) cones and an inferior area in which cones possess practically only short wavelength-sensitive (S) photopigments. The present study shows that the transitional zone between these retinal areas is populated by cones labeled by both the M and S cone photopigment-specific antibodies COS-1 and OS-2. It is concluded that the overwhelming majority of the transitional cones express both visual pigments. A small population of the transitional cones was strongly labeled exclusively by OS-2 (genuine S cones). The results indicate that, in contrast to the generally accepted idea of one visual pigment per one cone cell, cones of certain mammalian species can express different opsins simultaneously under natural conditions. We speculate that the coexpression may be due to the overlapping of regulatory factors determining the M and S fields.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Immunologic Techniques
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / chemistry*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Retinal Pigments / metabolism*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Retinal Pigments