Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Single Mutation May Have Sparked Multicellular Life

An important change in our ancestor’s DNA occurred millions of years ago. Life consisted of unicellular organisms a long time ago, and million cells arose from the fusion of two, ten and many cells. As a result, different types of cells led to the rise of organisms, which laid the path for the formation of tissues, organs and ultimately life. Researchers from the Oregon university believed that a single mutation directed in the transition from single-celled organisms to multi cellular organisms when they traced back the steps of evolution through phylogenetic tree. During mitosis, two daughter cells produced within the tissue are placed in proper orientation. Mitotic spindles align daughter cells with protein markers on the cell wall.  Cancer is the result of improper orientation of spindles and malformed tissue. The origin of multi cellular life can be pinpointed if researchers would discover the ancient protein structures that has the ability to position spindles.

Choanoflagellates are the closest unicellular relatives to animals and because they are unicellular, they organize into colony to feed on food. Multiple cells perform a single task as how the organs function. As a result, the need for the genetic change emerged along the way that allow single cells to identify each other and come together. Researchers need to do molecular time travelling to trace this watershed moment. Ancestral protein reconstruction technique combines gene sequencing with computer algorithms to duke into millions of years in the past. Researchers were able to distinguish when mutations took place in more than 40 organisms by working through a chain. The technique allowed them to create cells with the same DNA. They identified a single mutation that changed the way certain proteins function with the help of resurrected cells.

 The altered proteins(enzymes) became an interaction domain which can communicate and link to other proteins. This crucial protein today is present in all animal genomes and is put to work when a cell divides every time. This mutation is a small change that intensely changed the protein’s function, thus allowing it to do an entirely different task. According to Ken Prehoda, “animals really like these proteins because there are now over 70 of them inside of us.” The findings of team could lead to innovative insights about cancer and additional diseases. Cancer cells, lone wolves, misbehave and stop to communicate with body cells. By considering how cells communicate could help us understand why they stop. A small change can sometimes have huge consequences.

I found this article interesting because it discusses how the single mutation led to the origin of multi-cellular organisms from unicellular. The ancient protein structures allowed the multi-cellular organisms to arise by tracing back to the phylogenetic tree. The mutation altered the protein’s structure, and as a result can provide insights about cancer disease in which the cancerous cells do not communicate with body cells, and they arise because of improper spindle orientation during mitosis. The ancient proteins are the source of communication and linkage to other proteins. Cancer can be curable if we are able to identify how cells communicate.

1 comment:

  1. I think that this discovery of how a single mutation which altered protein function in unicellular organisms resulted in the rise of multi-cellular organisms is wonderful. Hopefully, it can lead to a better understanding of cancer and finding a cure.