Spectral tuning of pigments underlying red-green color vision

Science  17 May 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5008, pp. 971-974
DOI: 10.1126/science.1903559


Variations in the absorption spectra of cone photopigments over the spectral range of about 530 to 562 nanometers are a principal cause of individual differences in human color vision and of differences in color vision within and across other primates. To study the molecular basis of these variations, nucleotide sequences were determined for eight primate photopigment genes. The spectral peaks of the pigments specified by these genes spanned the range from 530 to 562 nanometers. Comparisons of the deduced amino acid sequences of these eight pigments suggest that three amino acid substitutions produce the approximately 30-nanometer difference in spectral peaks of the pigments underlying human red-green color vision, and red shifts of specific magnitudes are produced by replacement of nonpolar with hydroxyl-bearing amino acids at each of the three critical positions.

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