Nature 451, 783-788 (14 February 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06617; Received 21 August 2007; Accepted 17 December 2007

The genome of the choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis and the origin of metazoans

Nicole King1,2, M. Jody Westbrook1,12, Susan L. Young1,12, Alan Kuo3, Monika Abedin1, Jarrod Chapman1, Stephen Fairclough1, Uffe Hellsten3, Yoh Isogai1, Ivica Letunic4, Michael Marr5, David Pincus6, Nicholas Putnam1, Antonis Rokas7, Kevin J. Wright1, Richard Zuzow1, William Dirks1, Matthew Good6, David Goodstein1, Derek Lemons8, Wanqing Li9, Jessica B. Lyons1, Andrea Morris10, Scott Nichols1, Daniel J. Richter1, Asaf Salamov3, JGI Sequencing3, Peer Bork4, Wendell A. Lim6, Gerard Manning11, W. Todd Miller9, William McGinnis8, Harris Shapiro3, Robert Tjian1, Igor V. Grigoriev3 & Daniel Rokhsar1,3

  1. Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Center for Integrative Genomics,
  2. Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA
  3. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, California 94598, USA
  4. EMBL, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69012 Heidelberg, Germany
  5. Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, USA
  6. Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94158, USA
  7. Vanderbilt University, Department of Biological Sciences, Nashville, Tennessee 37235, USA
  8. Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA
  9. Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA
  10. University of Michigan, Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA
  11. Razavi Newman Bioinformatics Center, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA
  12. These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to: Nicole King1,2Daniel Rokhsar1,3 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to N.K. (Email: or D.R. (Email:

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike licence (, which permits distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This licence does not permit commercial exploitation, and derivative works must be licensed under the same or similar licence.


Choanoflagellates are the closest known relatives of metazoans. To discover potential molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of metazoan multicellularity, we sequenced and analysed the genome of the unicellular choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis. The genome contains approximately 9,200 intron-rich genes, including a number that encode cell adhesion and signalling protein domains that are otherwise restricted to metazoans. Here we show that the physical linkages among protein domains often differ between M. brevicollis and metazoans, suggesting that abundant domain shuffling followed the separation of the choanoflagellate and metazoan lineages. The completion of the M. brevicollis genome allows us to reconstruct with increasing resolution the genomic changes that accompanied the origin of metazoans.


These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.


The origin and evolution of synapses

Nature Reviews Neuroscience Review (01 Oct 2009)

See all 18 matches for Reviews