Genomics

Gene regulation predates animals

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
526,
Pages:
612–613
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/526612e
Published online

The oldest ancestor of animal life used the same tricks that modern humans do to turn genes on and off.

Alex de Mendoza at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, and his colleagues studied gene regulation in the fungus-like single-celled organism Creolimax fragrantissima, which branched onto a separate evolutionary path before the evolution of multicellular organisms.

To produce different cell types, multicellular organisms use three main gene-regulation processes: transcription factors, alternative splicing and non-coding RNAs. The authors found that C. fragrantissima uses the same processes to switch between life stages, meaning that these regulatory elements were likely to have been used by the last universal common ancestor of all animals, the authors say.

eLife http://doi.org/8kh (2015)

Additional data