Evolution of nonspectral rhodopsin function at high altitudes

Andes catfish
Researchers studied the eyes of catfish living in cold-water streams in the Andes Mountains
(photo by Nathan Lujan)

Protein evolution in response to different environments has long been of interest to both evolutionary biologists and biochemists. High-altitude specialist catfishes in the Andes mountains offer an opportunity to examine the molecular adaptations accompanying adaptation to cold environments. 
  • Molecular evolutionary analyses provided evidence for cold adaptation in Rhodopsin 
  • We found unique amino acid substitutions occur at sites under positive selection 
  • Cold-adapted enzymes, likely compensates for a decrease in kinetic rates
  • Our results support a role for natural variation in enhancing the performance of G protein-coupled receptors in response to cold temperatures.

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