Sponge Genes Hint at the Origins of Neurons and Other Cells


Instead, most of the cells that work in sponges exhibit genes that are normally linked to specialized cells in more complex tissues such as the gut. For example, sponge neuroid cells not only display other presynaptic neurons, but also display immune defenses. (It is possible that if nerve cells monitor the condition of sponge cells, these immune systems help in this process.) Sponges also have pinacocyte cells that work together as muscle cells to squeeze the animal and remove any debris or waste. ; Pinacocyte has a sensor that responds to nitric oxide, a vasodilator.

“Nitric oxide is what stimulates our smooth muscle in our blood vessels, so as our blood vessels grow, it is the nitric oxide that causes the release,” Musser said. “And we have shown by experiments in the paper that nitric oxide also regulates the collision of this sponge.” Like glutamate, nitric oxide may be the first component of the process of integrating old systems into a sponge, he says.

“Our data is very much in line with the idea that most of the essential machinery already existed in the evolution of animals,” Musser said. “And most of the first animal births were about to begin to divide these into different cells. But apparently these early cells had a lot of work to do, and they had to do a lot of things.” The original animal cells, like their closest relatives of protozoans, must have been knives for the Swiss Army. of animals may have divided things differently and differently.

If the integration and comparison of genetic modules was a major theme of evolution for early animals, then comparing the design and description of different types of modules can tell us about their history – as well as the limitations of how to mutate randomly. Another researcher who researches the answers is Arnau Sebé-Pedrós, who studied genetic mutations at the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona and published the first atlases of cell types in sponges, placozoans and jellies in 2018.

Sebé-Pedrós hypothesizes that mutations in the genes along the chromosomes may be subjective because the genes that coexist can share a direct mechanism. He states: “I am amazed at how the genes are stored in animal cells. They suspect that the need to regulate functional groups puts them at the same chromosomal level.

Scientists are still in the early days of studying how cells change and interact. But while it is important to clearly understand the origin of the evolutionary process of animal evolution, cell sponges atoms also play a key role in revealing the potential in animal biology. Says Sebé-Pedrós: “It is important not only to understand the origin of animals, but also to understand things that may be very different from anything we know about other animals.”


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Preliminary article reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an independent book of Simons Foundation whose purpose is to advance scientific understanding by explaining what is happening in mathematics and physical and life sciences.


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