Mechanisms of spectral tuning in the mouse green cone pigment

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Aug 5;94(16):8860-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.94.16.8860.


Diversification of cone pigment spectral sensitivities during evolution is a prerequisite for the development of color vision. Previous studies have identified two naturally occurring mechanisms that produce variation among vertebrate pigments by red-shifting visual pigment absorbance: addition of hydroxyl groups to the putative chromophore binding pocket and binding of chloride to a putative extracellular loop. In this paper we describe the use of two blue-shifting mechanisms during the evolution of rodent long-wave cone pigments. The mouse green pigment belongs to the long-wave subfamily of cone pigments, but its absorption maximum is 508 nm, similar to that of the rhodopsin subfamily of visual pigments, but blue-shifted 44 nm relative to the human red pigment, its closest homologue. We show that acquisition of a hydroxyl group near the retinylidene Schiff base and loss of the chloride binding site mentioned above fully account for the observed blue shift. These data indicate that the chloride binding site is not a universal attribute of long-wave cone pigments as generally supposed, and that, depending upon location, hydroxyl groups can alter the environment of the chromophore to produce either red or blue shifts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • DNA, Complementary / analysis
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Eye Proteins / chemistry
  • Eye Proteins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Retinal Pigments / chemistry
  • Retinal Pigments / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Eye Proteins
  • Retinal Pigments