Ciliates, although single-celled organisms, contain numerous subcellular structures and pathways usually associated with metazoans. How this cell biological complexity relates to the evolution of molecular elements is unclear, because features in these cells have been defined mainly at the morphological level. Among these ciliate features are structures resembling clathrin-coated, endocytic pits associated with plasma membrane invaginations called parasomal sacs. The combination of genome-wide sequencing in Tetrahymena thermophila with tools for gene expression and replacement has allowed us to examine this pathway in detail. Here we demonstrate that parasomal sacs are sites of clathrindependent endocytosis and that AP-2 localizes to these sites. Unexpectedly, endocytosis in Tetrahymena also involves a protein in the dynamin family, Drp1p (Dynamin-related protein 1). While phylogenetic analysis of AP subunits indicates a primitive origin for clathrin-mediated endocytosis, similar analysis of dynamin-related proteins suggests, strikingly, that the recruitment of dynamin-family proteins to the endocytic pathway occurred independently during the course of the ciliate and metazoan radiations. Consistent with this, our functional analysis suggests that the precise roles of dynamins in endocytosis, as well as the mechanisms of targeting, differ in metazoans and ciliates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research