Chapter 3. Visual Pigments as Photoreceptors

  1. Prof. Dr. Winslow R. Briggs2 and
  2. Prof. Dr. John L. Spudich3
  1. Masato Kumauchi and
  2. Thomas G. Ebrey

Published Online: 26 SEP 2005

DOI: 10.1002/352760510X.ch3

Handbook of Photosensory Receptors

Handbook of Photosensory Receptors

How to Cite

Kumauchi, M. and Ebrey, T. G. (2005) Visual Pigments as Photoreceptors, in Handbook of Photosensory Receptors (eds W. R. Briggs and J. L. Spudich), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, FRG. doi: 10.1002/352760510X.ch3

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 260 Panama St., Stanford, CA 94305, USA

  2. 3

    Center for Membrane Biology, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Texas Medical School, 6431 Fannin Street, MSB 6.130, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Washington, Box 351800, Department of Botany, Seattle, WA 98195–1800 USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2005
  2. Published Print: 17 FEB 2005

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527310197

Online ISBN: 9783527605101



  • photosensory receptors;
  • photoreceptors;
  • visual pigments;
  • retinal pigments;
  • vertebrate visual pigments;
  • invertebrate visual pigments;
  • unphotolyzed state


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

    • General Considerations

    • Photoreceptors and Pigments

    • Non-photoreceptor or “Non-rod”, “Non-cone” Retinal Pigments

    • Retinal Photoisomerases

  • The Unphotolyzed State of Vertebrate Visual Pigments

    • Structure of Visual Pigments: the Chromophore

    • Overall Topology of the Pigment

    • Cytoplasmic Domain

    • The Hydrophobic Core of Rhodopsin and the Retinal Binding Pocket

    • The Extracellular Domain of Rhodopsin

    • Structure of Other Visual Pigments

    • Protonation State of Some of the Carboxylic Acids of Rhodopsin

    • Internal Waters in Visual Pigments

    • Is Rhodopsin a Dimer in vivo?

    • Functional Properties of the Unphotolyzed State of a “Good” Visual Pigment

    • Quantum Efficiency of Visual Pigment Photochemistry

    • Dark Noise Originating from the Photoreceptor Pigment

  • Activation of Vertebrate Visual Pigments

    • Introduction

    • The Primary Event, Photoisomerization

    • The Meta I [LEFT RIGHT ARROW] Meta II Transition

    • Molecular Changes upon the Formation of Meta I and Meta II

    • Internal Water Molecules

    • Required Steps for Rhodopsin Activation

    • The Transmembrane Signaling Pathway

  • The Unphotolyzed State of Invertebrate Visual Pigments

    • Introduction

    • Wavelength Regulation of Invertebrate Pigments

  • Mechanism of Activation of Invertebrate Visual Pigments

    • The Initial Photochemical Events

    • Formation of Acid Metarhodopsin

    • Required Steps for Photolyzed Octopus Rhodopsin to Activate its G-protein

    • Purification of the Active Form of an Invertebrate Visual Pigment

  • Acknowledgements

  • References