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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Subunit sequences of the 4 x 6-mer hemocyanin from the golden orb-web spider, Nephila inaurata

Anne Averdam, Jürgen Markl, Thorsten Burmester
European Journal of Biochemistry 2003, 270 (16): 3432-9
12899700
The transport of oxygen in the hemolymph of many arthropod and mollusc species is mediated by large copper-proteins that are referred to as hemocyanins. Arthropod hemocyanins are composed of hexamers and oligomers of hexamers. Arachnid hemocyanins usually form 4 x 6-mers consisting of seven distinct subunit types (termed a-g), although in some spider taxa deviations from this standard scheme have been observed. Applying immunological and electrophoretic methods, six distinct hemocyanin subunits were identified in the red-legged golden orb-web spider Nephila inaurata madagascariensis (Araneae: Tetragnathidae). The complete cDNA sequences of six subunits were obtained that corresponded to a-, b-, d-, e-, f- and g-type subunits. No evidence for a c-type subunit was found in this species. The inclusion of the N. inaurata hemocyanins in a multiple alignment of the arthropod hemocyanins and the application of the Bayesian method of phylogenetic inference allow, for the first time, a solid reconstruction of the intramolecular evolution of the chelicerate hemocyanin subunits. The branch leading to subunit a diverged first, followed by the common branch of the dimer-forming b and c subunits, while subunits d and f, as well as subunits e and g form common branches. Assuming a clock-like evolution of the chelicerate hemocyanins, a timescale for the evolution of the Chelicerata was obtained that agrees with the fossil record.

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