Using yeast enabled the research to show how a cell might make important decisions. When yeast cells decide to mate, they must know that there is a mating partner close enough, and then make a snap decision to get ready to mate", says first author and graduate student Mohan Malleshaiah. Their decision to mate is not just fast, but precise, resulting in their selection of the best available partner, even though there may be many competing potential mates near by," Malleshaiah says. "Charles Darwin first discovered the principles governing how and why organisms choose mating partner 150 years ago. It is fascinating to see that the same principles that Darwin described to explain why a lioness chooses the strongest lion or a peahen chooses a peacock that has the most beautiful plumage can be so clearly observed at a molecular level in yeast," Malleshaiah adds.
Thanks to this Nature study, scientists have captured a glimpse of how cells make critical decisions about their fate. "Perhaps in the near future we may look forward to more discoveries of such switching mechanisms, with the potential of understanding and predicting how humans emerge from the complex process of cells deciding to become different tissues during development and how these decision-making switches break down in diseases," says Dr. Michnick.
|Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins|
University of Montreal