Menu

Single-Celled Life Primed to Go Multicellular

The unicellular ancestor of animals may have harbored some of the molecular tools that its many-celled descendants use to coordinate and direct cell differentiation and function, scientists show.

Oct 17, 2016
Bob Grant

Capsaspora owczarzakiWIKIMEDIA, ARNAU SEBE-PEDROS & INAKI RUIZ-TRILLOResearchers studying an amoeba species have determined that some of its proteins bear a striking similarity to proteins in multicellular animals, suggesting that the leap from unicellularity to multicellularity may have been easier than previously suspected. The protist, Capsaspora owczarzaki, undergoes life-cycle transitions with the aid of phosphosignaling and proteome regulation in much the same way that multicellular animals direct the differentiation and role of cells performing different functions within an individual organism, the scientists reported last week (October 13) in Developmental Cell.

“Animals are regarded as this very special branch, as in, there had to be so many innovations to be an animal,” David Booth, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who wasn’t involved in the study, told Science News. The new work shows “a lot of the machinery was there millions of years before animals evolved.”

Researchers in Spain combed the proteome of C.owczarzaki as the amoeba transitioned from free living to colonial stages of its life cycle. They found that the mix of proteins changed in these different life stages, especially with regard to phosphorylation state. The researchers also discovered key differences in transcription factors and tyrosine kinases, suggesting that the amoeba’s proteins were being modified just as proteins are in distinct cell types within the body of a multicelluar organism. This, study coauthor Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo of the Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona told Science News, means that the earliest multicellular animals were likely “recycling mechanisms that were already present before.”

Such molecular changes had not previously been documented, on the proteome level, in single-celled species. If the ancestor of early animals also harbored these molecular characteristics, the jump from unicellularity to multicellularity may have been more than a tweak to existing machinery rather than a huge structural and functional leap, Ruiz-Trillo and his team reasoned.

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Horizon Discovery introduces Myeloid DNA Reference Standard to support genetic testing of leukemia

Horizon Discovery introduces Myeloid DNA Reference Standard to support genetic testing of leukemia

Horizon Discovery Group plc, a global leader in gene editing and gene modulation technologies, today announced the launch of its Myeloid DNA Reference Standard. The first-to-market large cell-line derived myeloid cancer reference standard designed enables faster, more reliable and more cost-effective assay validation, to support the market in bringing routine testing into practice.

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress, a Folsom, California based leading supplier of human biospecimens, announces the release of frozen Peripheral Blood Leukopaks. Leukopaks provide an enriched source of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with low granulocyte and red blood cells that can be used in a variety of downstream cell-based applications.

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

Vector Laboratories, a leader in the development and manufacture of labeling and detection reagents for biomedical research, introduces VECTASHIELD® Vibrance™ – antifade mounting media that delivers significant improvements to the immunofluorescence workflow.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!