Characterisation of the Ubiquitin-ESCRT pathway in Asgard archaea sheds new light on origins of membrane trafficking in eukaryotes
This work answers the mystery surrounding when in evolution did a key class of membrane remodelling factors arise. The collaborative team comprising Balasubramanian (Warwick), Baum (Cambridge), Lowe (Cambridge), Robinson (Lancaster), and Ettema (Wageningen, Netherlands) worked on proteins encoded by Heimdall archaea, thought to be most related to eukaryotes. They found that, contrary to existing dogma, a complex eukaryote-like ESCRT family of membrane remodelling factors were present in archaea and are therefore not eukaryotic inventions. Warwick post-doctoral fellow and first author Hatano “reconstituted” key steps of the process using purified components helping arrive at the conclusions.
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