Hurrah for Edgar Medina and the Buchler Lab, who have papers out in PNAS and PLoS Genetics! The first paper, “Conservation and divergence of C-terminal domain structure in the retinoblastoma protein family” (doi:10.1073/pnas.1619170114), examines the evolution of proteins that regulate cell division. By studying certain regulators in 50 different species, from single-cell amoebas to flies and snails to fish, chickens and humans, Medina and his colleagues learned that a sudden and huge increase in these regulators and their mutual interactions took place with the evolution of jawed fish. The specific interactions discovered may shed light on how the cell cycle and cancer genetics differ across animals.
The PLoS paper, “Gene duplication and co-evolution of G1/S transcription factor specificity in fungi are essential for optimizing cell fitness” (doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006778), also deals with regulators of cell division, this time in yeast. Other fungi have only one transcription factor but yeast has two. The Buchler lab with collaborators in Israel and the UK traced these two factors through the genomes of related yeast species until they reached a common ancestor which had only a single factor. Further experiments with chimeras cast light on how the duplicated transcription factors have evolved to bind and control different genes in yeast.
Congratulations to Edgar and his colleagues for these important contributions to understanding the evolution of the cell cycle!