One of the mysteries of evolution still unsolved is how animals appeared from their unicellular ancestors and what evolutionary mechanisms were involved in the development of their body complexity. Everything indicates that the genetic mechanisms responsible for the great evolutionary success of animals would be found throughout the animal kingdom, including humans; but not in our unicellular ancestors, according to an article published in the journal Cell , in which Iñaki Ruiz Trillo, professor at the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics and member of the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona. The work, led by a team from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (a mixed center of the CSIC and Pompeu Fabra University), concludes that the great innovation that differentiates animals

from their unicellular relatives is distal regulation, that is, the capacity that it has the DNA to regulate genes that are distant from each other and determine Albania Email Lists exactly when to do so. DNA sequences that are located on other chromosomes, or widely separated from a particular gene, are capable of activating or inhibiting it. “This ability allowed us to dramatically increase our level of complexity, to the point of creating organisms with tens of millions of cells, as in the case of mammals,” says Iñaki Ruiz Trillo, also an ICREA research professor at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and winner of the aconsolidator grant from the European Research Council in 2014. Researchers have compared the epigenetic and gene regulatory systems of the amoeba Capsaspora owczarzaki – isolated from the hemolymph of a Puerto Rican snail

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with those of animals. According to the researchers, the number of mechanisms shared by the two groups is far greater than what differentiates them. For example, they have in common key elements for the development of animals, such as the Brachyury gene , important for embryogenesis, and the Myc oncogene , involved in cell proliferation. Likewise, the life cycle of C. owczarzaki it is complex and has clear phase transitions, ranging from a single cell to several dozen. In this case, the amoeba uses epigenetic tools, such as noncoding RNA and histone markings, to regulate transitions between different cell stages. “While C. owczarzaki uses genetic regulatory mechanisms to control the transition between the phases of the life cycle, animals use them to be able to specialize our cells: for example,

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