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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2009 Feb;21(1):4-13. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Feb 7.

First and last ancestors: reconstructing evolution of the endomembrane system with ESCRTs, vesicle coat proteins, and nuclear pore complexes.

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University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge, CB2 1QP, UK.


The eukaryotic endomembrane system is responsible for the biosynthesis and transport of proteins and lipids, and for the definition of the major subcellular compartments. Recent work indicates that the endomembrane system is ancient, with near modern complexity predating the radiation of the major eukaryotic lineages. The challenge is to look beyond the last eukaryotic common ancestor and to attempt to deduce the evolutionary steps in the rise of membrane-trafficking complexity. Relationships between the endomembrane coatomer complexes and their evolutionary connection to the nuclear pore complex are emerging. These studies, plus the realization of a role for the ESCRT complex as an alternate, but equally ancient, system for membrane deformation are providing insight into the earliest stages of endomembrane evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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