Biologists have found the missing link in the evolution from prokaryotes to eukaryotes

The scientists examined the genome of a living Asgardarchei species recently found in Yellowstone National Park.

Biologists believe that these organisms are onintermediate stage of evolution between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The researchers identified a protein that is similar to both eukaryotic tubulin and prokaryotic FtsZ. Scientists named the new protein in honor of the Scandinavian god - Odin Tubulin (Odin's tubulin).

Most prokaryotes (non-nuclear) havea single chromosome, which is a circular DNA molecule. These organisms reproduce asexually. As scientists note, in the process of reproduction, it is enough for such organisms to copy their circular genome and make sure that one copy gets into each new cell. Typically, the circular chromosome is attached to the cell membrane. As the cell grows and begins to split into two, this attachment ensures that one copy ends up in each daughter cell. The FtsZ protein is responsible for this process, which “pinches off” the daughter cell from the parent.

Eukaryotes usually have several linear chromosomes andoften such organisms reproduce sexually. During division, eukaryotes form a complex protein framework, mainly based on tubulin. This protein, as biologists note, forms long fibers that help attract copied chromosomes to the poles of a dividing cell.

How did the processes that allowedeukaryotic cells to precisely separate chromosomes was a mystery for a long time. Now, as biologists note, the study of the Odin Tubulin protein in asgardarchae will help answer this question. In their work, the scientists showed that under some conditions this protein exhibits properties similar to prokaryotic FtsZ, and under other conditions, to tubulin.

“Odintubulin may thus representis an evolutionary intermediate between prokaryotic FtsZ and eukaryotic microtubule-forming tubulins,” says Linh Tran, co-author of the study at Okayama University.

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