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Creatine kinase (CK) is coded for by at least four loci in higher vertebrates—two cytoplasmic isoforms, muscle (M) and brain (B), and two mitochondrial isoforms, sarcomeric and ubiquitous. M is expressed primarily in skeletal muscle, while B is expressed in a variety of cells, including cardiac and smooth muscle fibers, neurons, transport epithelia, and photoreceptors. M and B subunits form very stable homodimers (MM [M-CK], BB [B-CK]) and heterodimers (MB). M-CK is capable of binding to the M line of the myofibril, thereby creating an energy transfer microcompartment; BB and MB CKs are not. M- and B-like CKs are present in all vertebrates yet examined, including fish. Cytoplasmic, dimeric CKs are widely distributed in the invertebrates. The only available amino acid sequence for an invertebrate dimeric CK, that of the protostome polychaete Chaetopterus variopedatus, is just as similar to the vertebrate M isoform as to the B isoform. Echinoderms lack dimeric, cytoplasmic CKs, which appear to be replaced by a dimeric arginine kinase which evolved secondarily from CK. Thus, it is likely that the gene duplication event producing the M and B isoforms occurred after the divergence of the chordates from echinoderms. To narrow down the timing of this duplication event, we obtained the cDNA and deduced amino acid sequences of dimeric CKs from the tunicate Ciona intestinalis (subphylum Urochordata) and the lancelet Branchiostoma floridae (subphylum Cephalochordata). Our results show that these CKs are strikingly similar to both invertebrate and vertebrate CKs. However, phylogenetic analyses by neighbor-joining and parsimony show that these two enzymes appeared to have diverged before the point of divergence of the M and B isoforms. Thus, the gene duplication event for formation of the muscle and brain isoforms of CK most likely occurred during the radiation of the fish, a time noted for gene duplication events at a variety of other loci.