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The evolutionary context of robust and redundant cell biological mechanisms.

Marie Delattre and Marie-Anne Felix (2009)

Bioessays, 31(5):537-45.

The robustness of biological processes to perturbations has so far been mainly explored in unicellular organisms; multicellular organisms have been studied fordevelopmental processes or in the special case of redundancy between gene duplicates. Here we explore the robustness of cell biological mechanisms of multicellular organisms in an evolutionary context. We propose that the reuse ofsimilar cell biological mechanisms in different cell types of the same organism has evolutionary implications: (1) the maintenance of apparently redundant mechanisms over evolutionary time may in part be explained by their differentialrequirement in various cell types; (2) the relative requirement for two alternative mechanisms may evolve among homologous cells in different organisms.We present examples of cell biological processes, such as centrosome separation in prophase, spindle formation or cleavage furrow positioning, that support the first proposition. We propose experimental tests of these hypotheses.

 
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