What's New and Cool in Biology?

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BillTre
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Summary:

References to something new in biology, with links and short descriptions of why its interesting.
May not be open access.
Molecular regulators of inter-cellular tension, at triple junctions between cells, in an epithelium have been described.
Probably behind paywall.
Interpretation by non-authors.
Research article.

An epithelium is a kind of tissue, where the cells are arranged in sheets.
These cellular sheets have two different sides: inside/outside (basal/apical).
Different structures form inside the cells at the different ends. The cells are polarized in that direction.
This is probably one of the most phylogenetically ancient kinds of metazoan tissues.
It is involved in defining the difference between the organism and its environment, and containing its controlled internal environment.
Epithelia are held together, in sheets, by special contacts between the cells made of proteins that also interact across the membrane (through interactions involving other proteins) with the cytoskeleton (internal structural members of the cell).
This article is about the dynamic cellular control of these intercellular biophysical forces.

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This kind of thing was probably well evolved in the early metazoans (multicellular) animals that had three tissue layers : endoderm (internal epithelia, for digestive purposes), ectoderm (external epilethial (for maintaning internal environment, repelling parasites), and mesoderm (usually non-epithelial, lots of tissues between the inner and outer epithelia).
Each new tissue type would have to evolve a bunch of new mechanisms, encoded in genes and their controls.
This little mechanism seems to involve at least two novel proteins.
It is probably widely inherited among the metazoans (multicellular animals).

This is why it is interesting to me. Another step in the evolution of greater organismal complexity by changing a few things in a large genome.
 
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Answers and Replies

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Laroxe
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With the current pandemic a huge amount of money has been thrown at research in Virology and Immunology and the information goes well beyond understanding Covid 19. I follow a podcast on youtube called TWIV (this week in virology) where you get a group of researchers & clinicians discussing the latest findings.
 
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BillTre
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I just saw in Science Advances (Science Advances 01 Jan 2021: Vol. 7, no. 1, eabd8215 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd8215), link to the article. I doubt its open access, but I can't tell.
Horizontal genome transfer by cell-to-cell travel of whole organelles.

It seems that horizontal gene transfer can happen within a plant.
This was noticed at grafts between different plants (horticulturists do this, apparently grafting happens occasionally in the natural world also).
This paper is about a case they studied where the gene transfer is done by transferring whole plastids (chloroplasts or mitochondria) which include the whole genome of the plastid transferred.

Here is their Abstract:
Recent work has revealed that both plants and animals transfer genomes between cells. In plants, horizontal transfer of entire plastid, mitochondrial, or nuclear genomes between species generates new combinations of nuclear and organellar genomes, or produces novel species that are allopolyploid. The mechanisms of genome transfer between cells are unknown. Here, we used grafting to identify the mechanisms involved in plastid genome transfer from plant to plant. We show that during proliferation of wound-induced callus, plastids dedifferentiate into small, highly motile, amoeboid organelles. Simultaneously, new intercellular connections emerge by localized cell wall disintegration, forming connective pores through which amoeboid plastids move into neighboring cells. Our work uncovers a pathway of organelle movement from cell to cell and provides a mechanistic framework for horizontal genome transfer.
(my bolding)

Plastids usually means chloroplasts to botanists (I think), but can also include mitochondria.
A would-induced callus is a bunch of the dedifferentiate in response to an injury, form a lump of cells (callus) which then goes on to redifferentitate into normal cells, patterned appropriately for their location (if everything goes right).

Significance:
The process has great evolutionary significance in that it likely explains many cases of organelle capture (1013) and provides a straightforward asexual mechanism for speciation by allopolyploidization (9). In animals and humans, cell-to-cell transfer of mitochondrial genomes restores the tumorigenic potential of cancer cells with dysfunctional mitochondria (1416) and contributes to the recovery of neural tissue in the brain from stroke-induced damage (17).
 
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