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The Rosetteless gene controls development in the choanoflagellate S. rosetta.


The origin of animal multicellularity may be reconstructed by comparing animals with one of their closest living relatives, the choanoflagellate Salpingoeca rosetta. Just as animals develop from a single cell-the zygote-multicellular rosettes of S. rosetta develop from a founding cell. To investigate rosette development, we established forward genetics in S. rosetta. We find that the rosette defect of one mutant, named Rosetteless, maps to a predicted C-type lectin, a class of signaling and adhesion genes required for the development and innate immunity in animals. Rosetteless protein is essential for rosette development and forms an extracellular layer that coats and connects the basal poles of each cell in rosettes. This study provides the first link between genotype and phenotype in choanoflagellates and raises the possibility that a protein with C-type lectin-like domains regulated development in the last common ancestor of choanoflagellates and animals.

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