Telomere Science Library

Publications, Presentations, and Videos
about the Nobel-Prize Winning Science of Telomere Biology

Unicellular eukaryotes as models in cell and molecular biology: critical appraisal of their past and future value.

Authors: Martin M. Simon, Helmut H. Plattner
Published: 02/17/2014, International review of cell and molecular biology


Unicellular eukaryotes have been appreciated as model systems for the analysis of crucial questions in cell and molecular biology. This includes Dictyostelium (chemotaxis, amoeboid movement, phagocytosis), Tetrahymena (telomere structure, telomerase function), Paramecium (variant surface antigens, exocytosis, phagocytosis cycle) or both ciliates (ciliary beat regulation, surface pattern formation), Chlamydomonas (flagellar biogenesis and beat), and yeast (S. cerevisiae) for innumerable aspects. Nowadays many problems may be tackled with "higher" eukaryotic/metazoan cells for which full genomic information as well as domain databases, etc., were available long before protozoa. Established molecular tools, commercial antibodies, and established pharmacology are additional advantages available for higher eukaryotic cells. Moreover, an increasing number of inherited genetic disturbances in humans have become elucidated and can serve as new models. Among lower eukaryotes, yeast will remain a standard model because of its peculiarities, including its reduced genome and availability in the haploid form. But do protists still have a future as models? This touches not only the basic understanding of biology but also practical aspects of research, such as fund raising. As we try to scrutinize, due to specific advantages some protozoa should and will remain favorable models for analyzing novel genes or specific aspects of cell structure and function. Outstanding examples are epigenetic phenomena-a field of rising interest.

© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PubMed Full Text