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Science. 2019 Oct 18;366(6463):326-334. doi: 10.1126/science.aay2346.

Light-regulated collective contractility in a multicellular choanoflagellate.

Author information

1
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.
2
Biophysics Graduate Group, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.
3
Department of Aquatic Microbiology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, CARMABI, Piscaderabaai z/n Willemstad, Curaçao.
4
Electron Microscopy Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.
5
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. nking@berkeley.edu.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

Collective cell contractions that generate global tissue deformations are a signature feature of animal movement and morphogenesis. However, the origin of collective contractility in animals remains unclear. While surveying the Caribbean island of Curaçao for choanoflagellates, the closest living relatives of animals, we isolated a previously undescribed species (here named Choanoeca flexa sp. nov.) that forms multicellular cup-shaped colonies. The colonies rapidly invert their curvature in response to changing light levels, which they detect through a rhodopsin-cyclic guanosine monophosphate pathway. Inversion requires actomyosin-mediated apical contractility and allows alternation between feeding and swimming behavior. C. flexa thus rapidly converts sensory inputs directly into multicellular contractions. These findings may inform reconstructions of hypothesized animal ancestors that existed before the evolution of specialized sensory and contractile cells.

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PMID:
31624206
DOI:
10.1126/science.aay2346

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