Primary structure of locust opsins: a speculative model which may account for ultraviolet wavelength light detection.
The sequences of two locust opsins have been determined by dideoxy nucleotide sequencing of PCR products from cDNA derived from eyecup tissue. The opsins (Lo1 and Lo2) are encoded by 381 and 380 amino acid residues, respectively, with hydropathy profiles and placement of key amino acid residues suggestive of a typical seven-transmembrane rhodopsin structure. The sequence alignment of Lo1 reveals significant homology to mantid opsin. These opsins contain retinal as their visual chromophore and have similarity to the Rh1 type sequences from Drosophila and Calliphora which use 3-hydroxy retinal. Lo2 is most closely related to the Rh3/4 type of visual pigments from Drosophila. The retinal-based opsins show reduced numbers of charged amino acids in the loop region connecting transmembrane segments V and VI compared to the 3-hydroxy retinal opsins. Sequence alignment of all the known insect visual pigments has shown that only those with maximal sensitivity in the blue/UV spectral range, Lo2 and the Rh3/4 opsins of Drosophila, have three charged amino acids in transmembrane segments II, IV and VII. The charged residue in transmembrane VII is two helical turns away from the positively charged Schiff base and could act directly as a counterion to it. From the secondary structure analysis of opsin, the two charged residues in transmembrane II and IV would be in close proximity to form a dipole. These polar motifs in Lo2 and Rh3/Rh4 could act in wavelength modulation of short wavelength sensitive pigments and substantiate the proposed external two-point charge model which accounts for the spectral sensitivity of visual pigments [Honig, B., Dinur, U., Nakanishi, K., Balogh-Nair, V., Gawinowicz, M.A. and Motto, M. (1979). Journal of the American Chemical Society, 101, 7084-7086].