Discrepancies exist among spectral measurements of sensitivity of crayfish photoreceptors, their absorption in situ, and the number and absorption spectra of crayfish photopigments that are extracted by digitonin solutions. We have determined the photosensitivity spectrum of crayfish rhodopsin in isolated rhabdoms using long wavelength fluorescence emission from crayfish metarhodopsin as an intrinsic probe. There is no measurable metarhodopsin in the dark-adapted receptor, so changes in the emission level are directly proportional to metarhodopsin concentration. We therefore used changes in metarhodopsin fluorescence to construct relaxation and saturation ("photoequilibrium") spectra, from which the photosensitivity spectrum of crayfish rhodopsin was calculated. This spectrum peaks at or approximately 530 nm and closely resembles the previously measured difference spectrum for total bleaches of dark-adapted rhabdoms. Measurements of the kinetics of changes in rhabdom fluorescence and in transmittance at 580 nm were compared with predictions derived from several model systems containing one or two photopigments. The comparison shows that only a single rhodopsin and its metarhodopsin are present in the main rhabdom of crayfish, and that other explanations must be sought for the multiple pigments seen in digitonin solution. The same analysis shows that there is no detectable formation of isorhodopsin in the rhabdom.

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