Alternative cytoskeletal landscapes: cytoskeletal novelty and evolution in basal excavate protists. Academic Article uri icon


  • Microbial eukaryotes encompass the majority of eukaryotic evolutionary and cytoskeletal diversity. The cytoskeletal complexity observed in multicellular organisms appears to be an expansion of components present in genomes of diverse microbial eukaryotes such as the basal lineage of flagellates, the Excavata. Excavate protists have complex and diverse cytoskeletal architectures and life cycles-essentially alternative cytoskeletal 'landscapes'-yet still possess conserved microtubule-associated and actin-associated proteins. Comparative genomic analyses have revealed that a subset of excavates, however, lack many canonical actin-binding proteins central to actin cytoskeleton function in other eukaryotes. Overall, excavates possess numerous uncharacterized and 'hypothetical' genes, and may represent an undiscovered reservoir of novel cytoskeletal genes and cytoskeletal mechanisms. The continued development of molecular genetic tools in these complex microbial eukaryotes will undoubtedly contribute to our overall understanding of cytoskeletal diversity and evolution.

publication date

  • February 2013