Vitellogenin, an ancient animal protein, is the major yolk protein of eggs, where it is used as a food source during embryogenesis. Here it is shown that vitellogenins, including those from the invertebrates Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, contain domains that are homologous with parts of apolipoprotein B-100 (apoB-100) of human low-density lipoprotein and human lipoprotein lipase. As vitellogenins are likely to have been used by invertebrates during embryogenesis well before the circulation of lipids appeared in vertebrates, it is suggested that copies of a precursor gene, serving a function similar to vitellogenin, were modified to code for part of apoB-100 and lipoprotein lipase in vertebrates. In addition to providing a link between invertebrates and vertebrates for proteins involved in lipid transport, these homologies suggest new functions for vitellogenin other than being a yolk food for the developing embryo.

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