PerspectiveEvolution

Evolutionary history of tissue bending

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Science  18 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6463, pp. 300-301
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz1289

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Summary

Animal embryos shape their tissues during development through a variety of mechanisms, one of which involves coordinated constriction of one side of a sheet of cells, leading to tissue bending. This apical constriction mechanism of tissue morphogenesis occurs in most animal groups (1), suggesting that it was inherited from a common ancestor. On page 326 of this issue, Brunet et al. (2) describe the remarkable discovery of a new species of colony-forming unicellular eukaryote that uses collective cell contraction to change their morphology and behavior in response to a lack of light. Because the new species belongs to the closest living relatives of animals, the choanoflagellates (3), these results cast new light on the evolutionary origin of collective cell contractility.

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