Hemocyanins, high molecular weight oxygen-binding proteins, were identified in two species of protobranch bivalve mollusks, Acila castrensis and Yoldia limatula. Although hemocyanins have been reported in chitons, gastropods, and cephalopods, they have not been observed in the Class Bivalvia. In A. castrensis the dissociation products of hemocyanin, characterized by gel electrophoresis, had a subunit molecular weight of approximately 250K. Negatively stained preparations of extracted hemocyanin formed protein aggregates in the shape of cylinders measuring 35 by 38 nanometers. X-ray microanalysis of hemocyanin aggregates in thin sections of Y. limatula demonstrated the presence of copper in the molecules. The discovery of hemocyanin in the protobranchs reinforces the primitive nature of the taxon and is further evidence that the major molluscan classes have a common ancestry.

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