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Science 319 (5865): 946-948

Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The Premetazoan Ancestry of Cadherins

Monika Abedin1, and Nicole King1,2*

Abstract: Cadherin-mediated cell adhesion and signaling is essential for metazoan development and yet is absent from all other multicellular organisms. We found cadherin genes at numbers similar to those observed in complex metazoans in one of the closest single-celled relatives of metazoans, the choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis. Because the evolution of metazoans from a single-celled ancestor required novel cell adhesion and signaling mechanisms, the discovery of diverse cadherins in choanoflagellates suggests that cadherins may have contributed to metazoan origins.

1 Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Center for Integrative Genomics, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
2 Department of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley, 142 Life Sciences Addition, Mail Code 3200, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: nking{at}

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