Navigation Links
Crossed (evolutionary) signals?
Date:7/1/2008

What do humans and single-celled choanoflagellates have in common? More than you'd think. New research into the choanoflagellate genome shows these ancient organisms have similar levels of proteins that cells in more complex organisms, including humans, use to communicate with each other.

According to a paper published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, these findings help confirm choanoflagellates' role as an evolutionary link between single-celled and multi-celled organisms. They also contend that these insights into the organism's genome may mean that the proteins used to help cells communicate may have other roles as well. The researchers are from the University of California, San Francisco and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany.

Choanoflagellates, or at least their ancestors, have long been suspected as being the bridge between microorganisms with only one cell and metazoan, or multi-cellular organisms. There are many clues that lead to this conclusion, including the fact that choanoflagellates are similar to the individual cells in ocean sponges and unlike most other flagellates, they use their flagellate, or tail, to push themselves through water, rather than being pulled by it.

By analyzing the recently-sequenced choanoflagellate genome, the researchers discovered another similarity between choanoflagellates and most metazoans--their genetic code caries the markers of three types of molecules that cells use to achieve phospho-tyrosine signaling proteins.

Animals depend on tyrosine phosphorylation to conduct a number of important communications between their cells, including immune system responses, hormone system stimulation and other crucial functions. These phospho-tyrosine signaling pathways utilize a three-part system of molecular components to make these communications possible.

Tyrosine kinases (TyrK) 'write' messages between cells by adding phospho-tyrosine modifications, protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTP) are molecules that modify or 'erase' these modifications, and Src Homolgy 2 (SH2) molecules 'read' these modifications so the recipient cell gets the message.

Without these three molecules to help our cells 'write,' 'read' and 'erase' chemical messages between them, our bodies would never be able to conduct the complex tasks needed to survive such as reproduction, digesting food or even breathing.

Other genome analysis showed that some microorganisms contain some of these molecules in small levels, but never all three. This makes sense considering these organisms don't need the tools to communicate between cells since they are made up of only one cell. What makes choanoflagellates unique, however, is that they have all three of these molecules. What's more, they have relatively large quantities of them in amounts commonly seen in larger metazoan organisms.

The researchers conclude that the presence of the full three-component signaling system may have played a role in the development of metazoan organisms whose cells could communicate with each other in complex ways.

"It shows how evolution might work," says Wendell Lim, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was one of the authors of the paper. "Probably there was an ancestor to these organisms that first developed these chemicals."

The research also suggests that the genetic ability to express these three molecules may potentially give cells a wide range of communication possibilities, including uses within single cells.

To David Pincus, the lead author of the article, the research suggests that for a single cell with these molecules "there's a certain amount of signaling you can do, and you allocate that apparently for whatever function you want."

Studying these other functions, the authors believe, may yield important insights into how to treat and correct abnormal cell development in cancer patients and other disorders.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dana W. Cruikshank
dcruiksh@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Crossed (evolutionary) signals?
(Date:2/1/2016)... Feb. 1, 2016  Today, the first day of ... plans to develop a first of its kind workplace ... IBM Watson. In the first application of ... IBM ), and Welltok will create a new ... with cognitive analytics, delivered on Welltok,s health optimization platform. ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... 2016   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS ) today ... (JFK) International Airport, New York City , to ... attempting to enter the United States using ... pilot testing of the system at Dulles last year. ... JFK during January 2016. --> pilot testing of ...
(Date:1/21/2016)... , January 21, 2016 ... to a new market research report "Emotion Detection and ... Others), Software Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and ... - Global forecast to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... expected to reach USD 22.65 Billion by 2020, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... February 04, 2016 , ... Franz Inc. , ... Database technology has been recognized As “ Best in Semantic Web Technology - ... “At Corporate America, it’s our priority to showcase prominent professionals who are excelling ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... Pa. , Feb. 3, 2016  Discovery ... company focused on developing aerosolized KL4 surfactant therapies ... of Directors has approved an inducement award as ... Fraser , its newly appointed President and Chief ... Board,s Compensation Committee on February 1, 2016 and ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... N.J. , Feb. 3, 2016 ... totaling more than $1 million for researchers in ... working on health-related research that demonstrates exciting potential. ... round of funding for the New Jersey Health Foundation ... faculty members at these educational institutions— Princeton University, ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... ... 03, 2016 , ... Resilinc released online today ... nearly 750 unique supply chain notifications and alerts generated by its EventWatch ... risk management practitioners subscribe to the EventWatch service to receive early warnings and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: