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Shozo Yokoyama; General evolution of the opsins in vertebrates. Journal of Vision 2006;6(13):33. doi: 10.1167/6.13.33.
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Red-green color vision is strongly suspected to enhance the survival of its possessors. Despite being red-green color blind, however, many species have successfully competed in nature, which brings into question the evolutionary advantage of achieving red-green color vision. Here, we propose a new method of identifying positive selection at individual amino acid sites with the premise that if positive Darwinian selection has driven the evolution of the protein under consideration, then it should be found mostly at the branches in the phylogenetic tree where its function had changed. The statistical and molecular methods have been applied to 29 visual pigments with the wavelengths of maximal absorption at ∼510–540 nm (green- or middle wavelength-sensitive; MWS pigments) and ∼560 nm (red- or long wavelength-sensitive; LWS pigments), which are sampled from a diverse range of vertebrate species. The results show that the MWS pigments are positively selected through amino acid replacements S180A, Y277F, and T285A and that the LWS pigments have been subjected to strong evolutionary conservation. The fact that these positively selected M/LWS pigments are found not only in animals with red-green color vision but also in those with red-green color blindness strongly suggests that both red-green color vision and color blindness have undergone adaptive evolution independently in different species.
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