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A tissue-specific marker of Ecdysozoa

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Over the past few years, molecular studies of phylogeny have challenged the traditional view of evolutionary relationships among protostomian animal phyla. Based on analysis of 18S ribosomal RNA gene sequences, it has been suggested that some traditional groups, like the articulata and the pseudocoelomata, should be completely abandoned and that instead the protostomians should be split into two major clades: the Ecdysozoa and the Lophotrochozoa. However, this new molecular phylogeny still awaits confirmation by independent methods. In this study, we present a cytological feature that supports the new classification. The carbohydrate epitope that is recognised by antisera against the plant glycoprotein horseradish peroxidase (HRP) is known to be selectively expressed by membrane proteins on the surface of neural tissue in insects. We found that the major ecdysozoan phyla show neural expression of HRP immunoreactivity, which is completely absent in the nervous tissue of lophotrochozoans, deuterostomians, and cnidarians. This suggests that the presence of anti-HRP-reactive glycoproteins in neural tissue is an ecdysozoan autapomorphy.

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Haase, A., Stern, M., Wächtler, K. et al. A tissue-specific marker of Ecdysozoa. Dev Genes Evol 211, 428–433 (2001).

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