Single-Gene Greenbeard Effects in the Social Amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum

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Science  03 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5603, pp. 105-106
DOI: 10.1126/science.1077742

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Selection can favor reproductive altruism if an altruism allele aids copies of itself by helping relatives. The alternative “greenbeard” mechanism, in which an allele directly recognizes and aids copies of itself in others, is generally thought to be too complex for a single gene to carry out. The csA gene inDictyostelium discoideum acts as a single-gene greenbeard. When wild-type cells are mixed with csA-knockout cells, the wild type is more altruistic, but is also able preferentially to direct the benefits to other wild-type cells. Both properties derive directly from homophilic cell adhesion of the protein encoded by csA.

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