Conservation and novelty in the evolution of cell adhesion and extracellular matrix genes.

Science. 2000 Feb 11;287(5455):989-94.


New proteins and modules have been invented throughout evolution. Gene "birth dates" in Caenorhabditis elegans range from the origins of cellular life through adaptation to a soil habitat. Possibly half are "metazoan" genes, having arisen sometime between the yeast-metazoan and nematode-chordate separations. These include basement membrane and cell adhesion molecules implicated in tissue organization. By contrast, epithelial surfaces facing the environment have specialized components invented within the nematode lineage. Moreover, interstitial matrices were likely elaborated within the vertebrate lineage. A strategy for concerted evolution of new gene families, as well as conservation of adaptive genes, may underlie the differences between heterochromatin and euchromatin.


Hutter H, Vogel BE, Plenefisch JD, Norris CR, Proenca RB, Spieth J, Guo C, Mastwal S, Zhu X, Scheel J, Hedgecock EM.

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