Co-opting Disorder Into Order: Intrinsically Disordered Proteins and the Early Evolution of Complex Multicellularity

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Intrinsically Disordered Proteins, Multicellularity, Volvox Carteri, Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii, Protein Interaction Networks, Rega Protein, Self-organization, Complex Systems

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Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are proteins that lack rigid structures yet play important roles in myriad biological phenomena. A distinguishing feature of IDPs is that they often mediate specific biological outcomes via multivalent weak cooperative interactions with multiple partners. Here, we show that several proteins specifically associated with processes that were key in the evolution of complex multicellularity in the lineage leading to the multicellular green alga Volvox carteri are IDPs. We suggest that, by rewiring cellular protein interaction networks, IDPs facilitated the co-option of ancestral pathways for specialized multicellular functions, underscoring the importance of IDPs in the early evolution of complex multicellularity.

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International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, v. 201, p. 29-36