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The Epicuticle of an Arachnid, Palamneus swammerdami


The epicuticle of Palamneus swammerdami in the unhardened condition is homogeneous. It stains uniformly red with Mallory. When hardened, it comprises an internal unstained region, giving evidence of --S--S-- bonding, and is bounded externally by a very thin membrane which stains blue with Mallory.

The protein of the inner basal layer differs from its counterpart in the insect epicuticle in the absence of tyrosine, in the occurrence of cystine and cysteine, and in being resistant to the action of hot alkalis. Though apparently related to the keratin of vertebrates, it is not identical with it. The outer thin membrane is lipide in nature. X-ray diffraction studies show that the epicuticular protein is unique: it is unlike both arthropodin and the keratin of vertebrates. However, the outer membrane of the epicuticle yields a diffraction pattern indicating the presence of long-chain paraffins and is similar to the outer epicuticle of the blowfly larva. The chitin of the cuticle appears to be identical in pattern with that of insects.

In spite of differences in structural and chemical constitution, the epicuticle of the scorpion shows a resemblance to the basic pattern of the insect epicuticle. The differences may be attributed to the absence of phenolic tanning and the occurrence of --S--S-- bonding. The possible role of the purines present in the cuticle of the scorpion is discussed in relation to --S--S-- bonding.