Many animals have developed systems for sensing environmental conditions during evolution. In sensory cells, receptor molecules are responsible for their sensing abilities. In light sensing, most animals capture light information via rhodopsin-like photoreceptive proteins known as opsin-based pigments. A body of evidence from comparisons of amino acid sequences and in vitro experiments demonstrates that opsins have phylogenetically and functionally diversified during evolution and suggests that the phylogenetic diversity in opsins correlates with the variety of molecular properties of opsin-based pigments. In this review, we discuss the various molecular properties of opsin-based pigments and their contribution to light-sensing ability by providing two examples: i) contribution of photoregeneration ability and Chromophore retinal binding property of an Opn3 homolog to non-visual photoreception, and ii) contribution of an absorption characteristic of a visual pigment to depth perception in jumping spiders.
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Vol. 31 • No. 10