Horm Metab Res 1996; 28(10): 535-540
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-979847
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© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Statistical Approach for Evolutionary Relationship of α-Conotoxins and Members of Insulin-Superfamily

S. Berger1 , V. Maier1 , C. Zawadil1 , E.-F. Pfeiffer1 , M. Bounias2
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
  • 2Department of Biomathematics and Toxicology, University of Avignon, Avignon, France
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Publication History



Publication Date:
23 April 2007 (online)


Similar conserved structures appear in apparently unrelated protein families. Thus, the superfamily of insulin shows an evolutionary relationship with the α-conotoxins of marine fishhunting snails as indicated by methods of protein comparison. In order to reach statistical significance, the A-chains of different insulins, insulin-like growth factors, relaxins, insulin related peptides from invertebrates were drawn for comparison. These data were correlated with sequences from randomly chosen proteins. The α-conotoxins show identity scores up to 37.5% and similarity up to 56.2% toward the members of the insulin-superfamily. These scores conform to values achieved by comparing the relaxin and the insulin/IGF-sequences. The data show clearly that the identity and similarity values obtained in the comparison with the insulins are significantly higher than the scores of randomly chosen protein primary structures. According to our calculated data, this hormone system regulating metabolism and growth in vertebrates and the mentioned toxin-receptor system share the same evolutionary ancestor. However, this statistical approach has to be substantiated on gene level.