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Evolution of multicellularity and somatic cell specialization

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 EVOSOM project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the EVOSOM project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "EVOSOM" about.

seek    encoding    hypothesis    expression    forms    alternatively    signalling    group    regulatory    yielding    organs    gain    intracellular    transition    retrace    changed    structures    splice    ancestral    tractable    genetic    replacement    diversification    drivers    correlations    versa    patterns    mostly    elaboration    species    fundamental    esp    amoebozoa    place    esps    somatic    functions    exposed    caused    genetically    found    cell    specialization    signal    families    secreted    organisation    groups    appearing    unicellular    phenotyping    multicellular    induce    10    overexpress    induces    frequently    function    indicative    causality    lineage    emergence    starting    conserved    contain    proteins    transitions    alternative    spliced    types    propagation    vice    populations    altered    enabled    dictyostelia    multicellularity    allowed    relatives    events    mechanisms    questions    subdivided    cells    utr    promoter    genes    evolution    innovation    promoters    tissues    gene    immense   

Project "EVOSOM" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: Nethergate
city: DUNDEE
postcode: DD1 4HN

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 2˙128˙602 €
 EC max contribution 2˙128˙602 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2016-ADG
 Funding Scheme ERC-ADG
 Starting year 2017
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2017-05-01   to  2022-04-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE UK (DUNDEE) coordinator 2˙128˙602.00


 Project objective

The evolution of multicellularity allowed specialization of cells into functions that support rather than cause propagation. While yielding immense gain of function, the organisation of these somatic cells into tissues and organs required novel cell-cell signalling systems. We seek to identify the genetic changes that caused transitions to multicellularity and enabled cell specialization. We use genetically tractable Dictyostelia with multicellular structures that contain from 1 to 5 cell-types to address these fundamental questions. Dictyostelia evolved from unicellular Amoebozoa and are subdivided into 4 major groups, with most novel cell-types appearing in group 4. We found that gene expression patterns changed most frequently at the transition between groups 3 and 4, and that across groups ~10% of genes were alternatively spliced in the 5’UTR, indicative of promoter elaboration. Among known genes essential for multicellular development, those involved in intracellular signal processing were mostly conserved between Dictyostelia and unicellular Amoebozoa, while those encoding exposed and secreted proteins (ESPs) were unique to Dictyostelia or groups within Dictyostelia. Starting from a hypothesis that diversification of ESPs and gene regulatory mechanisms are major drivers of multicellular evolution, we will place unicellular relatives of Dictyostelia under selection to induce multicellularity, establish which genes are most changed in evolved populations and whether this involves ESP families that are also most changed in Dictyostelia. We will overexpress altered genes in unicellular forms to assess whether this induces multicellularity. We will retrace evolution of cell specialization by lineage analysis and phenotyping and seek correlations between cell-type innovation and alternative splice events and with emergence of novel signalling genes. Causality will be assessed by replacement of genes or promoters with ancestral forms in evolved species and vice versa


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Yoshinori Kawabe, Takahiro Morio, Yoshimasa Tanaka, Pauline Schaap
Glycogen synthase kinase 3 promotes multicellular development over unicellular encystation in encysting Dictyostelia
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-9139, DOI: 10.1186/s13227-018-0101-6
EvoDevo 9/1 2020-01-28
Evolution of multicellularity in Dictyostelia
published pages: 359-369, ISSN: 0214-6282, DOI: 10.1387/ijdb.190108ps
Int. J. Dev. Biol. 63 2020-01-28
2019 Gillian Forbes, Zhi-hui Chen, Koryu Kin, Hajara M. Lawal, Christina Schilde, Yoko Yamada, Pauline Schaap
Phylogeny-wide conservation and change in developmental expression, cell-type specificity and functional domains of the transcriptional regulators of social amoebas
published pages: , ISSN: 1471-2164, DOI: 10.1186/s12864-019-6239-3
BMC Genomics 20/1 2020-01-28
2018 Pauline Schaap, Christina Schilde
Encystation: the most prevalent and underinvestigated differentiation pathway of eukaryotes
published pages: 727-739, ISSN: 1350-0872, DOI: 10.1099/mic.0.000653
Microbiology 164/5 2019-05-16
2018 Koryu Kin, Gillian Forbes, Andrew Cassidy, Pauline Schaap
Cell-type specific RNA-Seq reveals novel roles and regulatory programs for terminally differentiated Dictyostelium cells
published pages: , ISSN: 1471-2164, DOI: 10.1186/s12864-018-5146-3
BMC Genomics 19/1 2019-05-16
2018 Falk Hillmann, Gillian Forbes, Silvia Novohradská, Iuliia Ferling, Konstantin Riege, Marco Groth, Martin Westermann, Manja Marz, Thomas Spaller, Thomas Winckler, Pauline Schaap, Gernot Glöckner
Multiple Roots of Fruiting Body Formation in Amoebozoa
published pages: 591-606, ISSN: 1759-6653, DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evy011
Genome Biology and Evolution 10/2 2019-05-16

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