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J Mol Evol. 1992 May;34(5):406-15.

Insect muscle actins differ distinctly from invertebrate and vertebrate cytoplasmic actins.

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Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Centre de Génétique Moléculaire et Cellulaire UMR, Villeurbanne, France.


Invertebrate actins resemble vertebrate cytoplasmic actins, and the distinction between muscle and cytoplasmic actins in invertebrates is not well established as for vertebrate actins. However, Bombyx and Drosophila have actin genes specifically expressed in muscles. To investigate if the distinction between muscle and cytoplasmic actins evidenced by gene expression analysis is related to the sequence of corresponding genes, we compare the sequences of actin genes of these two insect species and of other Metazoa. We find that insect muscle actins form a family of related proteins characterized by about 10 muscle-specific amino acids. Insect muscle actins have clearly diverged from cytoplasmic actins and form a monophyletic group emerging from a cluster of closely related proteins including insect and vertebrate cytoplasmic actins and actins of mollusc, cestode, and nematode. We propose that muscle-specific actin genes have appeared independently at least twice during the evolution of animals: insect muscle actin genes have emerged from an ancestral cytoplasmic actin gene within the arthropod phylum, whereas vertebrate muscle actin genes evolved within the chordate lineage as previously described.

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