Archaeal Origins of Eukaryotic Cell Organisation
Our aim is to shed light on the evolutionary path by which archaeal proteins gave rise to the eukaryotic cytoskeleton. With the discovery of Asgard’ clade archaea, the homologs of key eukaryote cytoskeletal proteins have, for the first time, been identified in archaea. This discovery begs the question of how these ancestral proteins operate and whether understanding their function can yield new insight into the evolution of eukaryote cells and the transition of cytoskeletal machinery from archaea to eukaryotes. With the support of the Wellcome Trust to address this prospect, we have assembled a diverse team of researchers to explore the ultrastructure, biophysics, biochemical activities and cell biology context of cytoskeletal proteins encoded in ‘Asgard’ genomes. Our research and comparative analysis will enable us to decipher the transition of cytoskeletal machinery from archaea to eukaryotes, thereby furthering our understanding of the foundations of eukaryote and multicellular life.