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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Phototransduction and the evolution of photoreceptors.

Photoreceptors in metazoans can be grouped into two classes, with their photoreceptive membrane derived either from cilia or microvilli. Both classes use some form of the visual pigment protein opsin, which together with 11-cis retinaldehyde absorbs light and activates a G-protein cascade, resulting in the opening or closing of ion channels. Considerable attention has recently been given to the molecular evolution of the opsins and other photoreceptor proteins; much is also known about transduction in the various photoreceptor types. Here we combine this knowledge in an attempt to understand why certain photoreceptors might have conferred particular selective advantages during evolution. We suggest that microvillar photoreceptors became predominant in most invertebrate species because of their single-photon sensitivity, high temporal resolution, and large dynamic range, and that rods and a duplex retina provided primitive chordates and vertebrates with similar sensitivity and dynamic range, but with a smaller expenditure of ATP.[1]


  1. Phototransduction and the evolution of photoreceptors. Fain, G.L., Hardie, R., Laughlin, S.B. Curr. Biol. (2010) [Pubmed]
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