Molecular evolution of the arthropod hemocyanin superfamily

T Burmester
Molecular Biology and Evolution 2001, 18 (2): 184-95
Arthropod hemocyanins are members of a protein superfamily that also comprises the arthropod phenoloxidases (tyrosinases), crustacean pseudohemocyanins (cryptocyanins), and insect storage hexamerins. The evolution of these proteins was inferred by neighbor-joining, maximum-parsimony, and maximum-likelihood methods. Monte Carlo shuffling approaches provided evidence against a discernible relationship of the arthropod hemocyanin superfamily and molluscan hemocyanins or nonarthropodan tyrosinases. Within the arthropod hemocyanin superfamily, the phenoloxidase probably emerged early in the (eu-)arthropod stemline and thus form the most likely outgroup. The respiratory hemocyanins evolved from these enzymes before the radiation of the extant euarthropodan subphyla. Due to different functional constraints, replacement rates greatly vary between the clades. Divergence times were thus estimated assuming local molecular clocks using several substitution models. The results were consistent and indicated the separation of the cheliceratan and crustacean hemocyanins close to 600 MYA. The different subunit types of the multihexameric cheliceratan hemocyanin have a rather conservative structure and diversified in the arachnidan stemline between 550 and 450 MYA. By contrast, the separation of the crustacean (malacostracan) hemocyanin subunits probably occurred only about 200 MYA. The nonrespiratory pseudohemocyanins evolved within the Decapoda about 215 MYA. The insect hemocyanins and storage hexamerins emerged independently from the crustacean hemocyanins. The time of divergence of the insect proteins from the malacostracan hemocyanins was estimated to be about 430-440 MYA, providing support for the notion that the Hexapoda evolved from the same crustacean lineage as the Malacostraca.


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