Diplopod hemocyanin sequence and the phylogenetic position of the Myriapoda

Kristina Kusche, Thorsten Burmester*

*Corresponding author for this work
65 Citations (Scopus)


Hemocyanins are copper-containing respiratory proteins of the Arthropoda that have so far been thoroughly investigated only in the Chelicerata and the Crustacea but have remained unstudied until now in the Myriapoda. Here we report the first sequence of a myriapod hemocyanin. The hemocyanin of Spirostreptus sp. (Diplopoda: Spirostreptidae) is composed of two distinct subunits that are arranged in a 6 × 6 native molecule. The cloned hemocyanin subunit cDNA codes of for a polypeptide of 653 amino acids (75.5 kDa) that includes a signal peptide of 18 amino acids. The sequence closely resembles that of the chelicerate hemocyanins. Molecular phylogenetic analyses reject with high statistical confidence the integrity of the Tracheata (i.e., Myriapoda + Insecta) but give conflicting results on the position of the myriapod hemocyanin. While distance matrix and maximum-likelihood methods support a basal position of the Spirostreptus hemocyanin with respect to the other hemocyanins, parsimony analysis suggests a sister group relationship with the chelicerate hemocyanins. The latter topology is also supported by a unique shared deletion of an alpha-helix. A common ancestry of Myriapoda and Chelicerata should be seriously considered.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1566-1573
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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