Binding Site

Visual pigments (opsins) retinal binding site (IPR027430)

Short name: Retinal_BS


Visual pigments [PMID: 3303660, PMID: 1663559] are the light-absorbing molecules that mediate vision. They consist of an apoprotein, opsin, covalently linked to the chromophore cis-retinal. Vision is effected through the absorption of a photon by cis-retinal which is isomerised to trans-retinal. This isomerisation leads to a change of conformation of the protein. Opsins are integral membrane proteins with seven transmembrane regions that belong to family 1 of G-protein coupled receptors.

In vertebrates four different pigments are generally found. Rod cells, which mediate vision in dim light, contain the pigment rhodopsin. Cone cells, which function in bright light, are responsible for colour vision and contain three or more colour pigments (for example, in mammals: red, blue and green).

In Drosophila, the eye is composed of 800 facets or ommatidia. Each ommatidium contains eight photoreceptor cells (R1-R8): the R1 to R6 cells are outer cells, R7 and R8 inner cells. Each of the three types of cells (R1-R6, R7 and R8) expresses a specific opsin.

Proteins evolutionary related to opsins include:

  • Squid retinochrome, also known as retinal photoisomerase, which converts various isomers of retinal into 11-cis retinal.
  • Mammalian opsin 3 (Encephalopsin) that may play a role in encephalic photoreception.
  • Mammalian opsin 4 (Melanopsin) that may mediate regulation of circadian rhythms and acute suppression of pineal melatonin.
  • Mammalian retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) RGR [PMID: 7947717], a protein that may also act in retinal isomerisation.

The attachment site for retinal in the above proteins is a conserved lysine residue in the middle of the seventh transmembrane helix.

Contributing signatures

Signatures from InterPro member databases are used to construct an entry.
PROSITE patterns