Structure, diversity and evolution of myriapod hemocyanins

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Oxygen transport in the hemolymph of many arthropods is mediated by hemocyanins, large copper-containing proteins that are well-studied in Chelicerata and Crustacea, but had long been considered unnecessary in the subphylum of Myriapoda. Only recently has it become evident that hemocyanins are present in Scutigeromorpha (Chilopoda) and Spirostreptida (Diplopoda). Here we present evidence for a more widespread occurrence of hemocyanin in the myriapods. By means of RT-PCR, western blotting and database searches, hemocyanins were identified in the symphylans Hanseniella audax and Symphylella vulgaris, the chilopod Scolopendra subspinipes dehaani and the diplopod Polydesmus angustus. No hemocyanins were found in the diplopods Polyxenus lagurus, Cylindroiulus punctatus, Glomeris marginata, Glomeris pustulata and Arthrosphaera brandtii, or the chilopods Lithobius forficatus, Geophilus flavus and Strigamia maritima. This suggests multiple independent losses in myriapod taxa. Two independent hemocyanin subunits were found that were already present in the myriapod stem line. We specifically investigated the structure of the hemocyanin of P. angustus, which consists of three distinct subunits that occur in an approximately equimolar ratio. As deduced by 3D electron microscopy, the quaternary structure is a 3 × 6-mer that resembles the half structure of the 6 × 6-mer hemocyanin from Scutigera coleoptrata. It was analyzed more closely by homology modeling of 1 × 6-mers and their rigid-body fitting to the electron density map of the 3 × 6-mer. In addition, we obtained the cDNA sequence of a putative myriapod phenoloxidase. Phenoloxidases are related to the arthropod hemocyanins, but diverged before radiation of the arthropod subphyla.Hemocyanin transports O2 in many arthropods. We demonstrate a widespread occurrence hemocyanin in centipedes, millipedes and symphylans. Some species lack hemocyanin. Two distinct subunit types evolved early in myriapod evolution. We further show the presence of hemocyanin-like phenoloxidases in this taxon. Specifically, the structure of the 3 × 6-mer hemocyanin of Polydesmus angustus was revealed by sequencing, 3D electron microscopy and homology modelling.

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