A novel amino acid substitution is responsible for spectral tuning in a rodent violet-sensitive visual pigment.Biochemistry. 2004 Jun 29; 43(25):8014-20.B
Cone short-wave (SWS1) visual pigments can be divided into two categories that correlate with spectral sensitivity, violet sensitive above 390 nm and ultraviolet sensitive below that wavelength. The evolution and mechanism of spectral tuning of SWS1 opsins are proving more complex than those of other opsin classes. Violet-sensitive pigments probably evolved from an ancestral ultraviolet-sensitive opsin, although in birds ultraviolet sensitivity has re-evolved from violet-sensitive pigments. In certain mammals, a single substitution involving the gain of a polar residue can switch sensitivity from ultraviolet to violet sensitivity, but where such a change is not involved, several substitutions may be required to effect the switch. The guinea pig, Cavia porcellus, is a hystricognathous rodent, a distinct suborder from the Sciurognathi, such as rats and mice. It has been shown by microspectrophotometry to have two cone visual pigments at 530 and 400 nm. We have ascertained the sequence of the short-wave pigment and confirmed its violet sensitivity by expression and reconstitution of the pigment in vitro. Moreover, we have shown by site-directed mutagenesis that a single residue is responsible for wavelength tuning of spectral sensitivity, a Val86Phe causing a 60 nm short-wave shift into the ultraviolet and a Val86Tyr substitution shifting the pigment 8 nm long wave. The convergent evolution of this mammalian VS pigment provides insight into the mechanism of tuning between the violet and UV.