This paper describes the primary structures of two opsins of short-wavelength-absorbing visual pigments deduced from the mRNA sequences in the retina of the Japanese yellow swallowtail butterfly Papilio xuthus. A phylogenetic analysis of the amino acid sequences indicates that one of these visual pigments is of the ultraviolet-absorbing type and that the other is of the blue-absorbing type. We identified the photoreceptor cells that express these mRNAs by histological in situ hybridization. The mRNA of the ultraviolet type is expressed in two distinct photoreceptor types previously identified as ultraviolet and violet receptors, providing the first molecular biological evidence that different types of spectral receptor probably express a visual pigment with an identical amino acid sequence. The mRNA of the blue type is expressed exclusively in cells classified as blue receptors.

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