Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Evidence That Ancient Choanoflagellates' Form Evolutionary Link Between Single-celled And Multi-celled Organisms

Date:
July 3, 2008
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
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.

An illustration of a choanoflagellate. Researchers have discovered that these single-cell organisms are unique in that they contain molecules that cells in multi-cellular organisms use to communicate with each other. These findings provide new insights into how multi-cellular organisms evolved and they suggest other uses for these communication molecules that have yet to be discovered.
Credit: Mateus Zica

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 in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "New Evidence That Ancient Choanoflagellates' Form Evolutionary Link Between Single-celled And Multi-celled Organisms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701165050.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2008, July 3). New Evidence That Ancient Choanoflagellates' Form Evolutionary Link Between Single-celled And Multi-celled Organisms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701165050.htm
National Science Foundation. "New Evidence That Ancient Choanoflagellates' Form Evolutionary Link Between Single-celled And Multi-celled Organisms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701165050.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins