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cuticleDB: a relational database of Arthropod cuticular proteins

Christiana K Magkrioti1, Ioannis C Spyropoulos1, Vassiliki A Iconomidou1, Judith H Willis2 and Stavros J Hamodrakas1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cell Biology and Biophysics, Faculty of Biology, University of Athens, Athens 157 01, Greece

2 Department of Cellular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2004, 5:138  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-5-138

Published: 28 September 2004



The insect exoskeleton or cuticle is a bi-partite composite of proteins and chitin that provides protective, skeletal and structural functions. Little information is available about the molecular structure of this important complex that exhibits a helicoidal architecture. Scores of sequences of cuticular proteins have been obtained from direct protein sequencing, from cDNAs, and from genomic analyses.

Most of these cuticular protein sequences contain motifs found only in arthropod proteins.


cuticleDB is a relational database containing all structural proteins of Arthropod cuticle identified to date. Many come from direct sequencing of proteins isolated from cuticle and from sequences from cDNAs that share common features with these authentic cuticular proteins. It also includes proteins from the Drosophila melanogaster and the Anopheles gambiae genomes, that have been predicted to be cuticular proteins, based on a Pfam motif (PF00379) responsible for chitin binding in Arthropod cuticle. The total number of the database entries is 445: 370 derive from insects, 60 from Crustacea and 15 from Chelicerata. The database can be accessed from our web server at webcite.


CuticleDB was primarily designed to contain correct and full annotation of cuticular protein data. The database will be of help to future genome annotators. Users will be able to test hypotheses for the existence of known and also of yet unknown motifs in cuticular proteins. An analysis of motifs may contribute to understanding how proteins contribute to the physical properties of cuticle as well as to the precise nature of their interaction with chitin.