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The Premetazoan Ancestry of Cadherins

Science  15 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5865, pp. 946-948
DOI: 10.1126/science.1151084

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Abstract

Cadherin-mediated cell adhesion and signaling is essential for metazoan development and yet is absent from all other multicellular organisms. We found cadherin genes at numbers similar to those observed in complex metazoans in one of the closest single-celled relatives of metazoans, the choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis. Because the evolution of metazoans from a single-celled ancestor required novel cell adhesion and signaling mechanisms, the discovery of diverse cadherins in choanoflagellates suggests that cadherins may have contributed to metazoan origins.

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