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 trea
|Contact: Dana W. Cruikshank|
National Science Foundation