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Affirming evolution of complex systems

Resurrection of 450 million year old protein illustrates how an integrated system evolved in a stepwise fashion

Charles Choi
An ancient receptor appears sensitive to the same hormone that activates its modern descendant, providing clues to how a lock-and-key relationship evolved between a hormone and its far older receptor, according to this week's Science. These findings illustrate the means by which complex, tightly integrated parts could have evolved in a stepwise, Darwinian fashion.To obtain their findings, the researchers used phylogenic analyses to ?resurrect? a 450 million year old protein and determine the process that led it to its current form. "It's almost as though they had a time machine to go back and look at the ancient interactions," Richard Lenski at Michigan State University, who did not participate in this study, told The Scientist.The researchers, headed by Joseph Thornton at the University of Oregon in Eugene, focused on the history of the relationship between the steroid hormone aldosterone, currently only seen in tetrapods, and...

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