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Ctenophores Unlock Molecular Key to Understanding Animal Evolution and Disease

Source: Science Daily/Vanderbilt University Medical Center - April 20, 2017 in Science/Tech

Ctenophores Unlock Molecular Key to Understanding Animal Evolution and Disease
Photo: NOAA/OAR/NURP

The dawn of the Animal Kingdom began with a collagen scaffold that enabled the organization of cells into tissues.

This key innovation, which made possible the rich diversity of life on earth, is found in the most ancient of currently living animals — the ctenophore, Vanderbilt University Medical Center scientists report in the online journal eLife.

Ctenophores, commonly called comb jellies, are marine invertebrates known for their translucent, globe-like bodies that refract light into dazzling rainbow-like colors.

They have one thing in common with all animals — rope-like collagen IV molecules that assemble into scaffolds outside of the cell. These “smart” scaffolds are the fundamental architectural unit of the basement membrane, which, in turn, connects cells, provides strength to tissues and transmits information that influences how cells behave

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