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Vitamin A deprivation and Drosophila photopigments

Naturevolume 266pages648650 (1977) | Download Citation



VITAMIN A deprivation causes a profound reduction in visual sensitivity and photopigment concentration in the eyes of both vertebrates and invertebrates1,2. In vertebrates vitamin A deprivation results in degeneration of photoreceptor cells3 and decreases the number of intramembrane particles visualised in the disks of rod outer segments by freeze-fracture electron microscopy4. This and other evidence5 suggests that these particles represent rhodopsin molecules. Invertebrate photoreceptors have similar, 8-nm intramembrane particles in the stacked microvilli which form their light-sensitive rhabdomeres6,7. The number of particles is comparable to the number of pigment molecules present8 and is dependent on the state of light adaptation9. We describe here a study of the effects of vitamin A deprivation on the fine structure, photopigment content, and sensitivity of Drosophila photoreceptors. The results support the hypothesis that most of the intramembrane particles in invertebrate rhabdomeres, like those in vertebrate photoreceptors, are rhodopsin molecules.

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  1. Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, 91125

    • W. A. HARRIS
    • , D. F. READY
    • , E. D. LIPSON
    •  & A. J. HUDSPETH
  2. Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, 21218

    • W. S. STARK


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