Blast Lab Protein: Tubulin

Tubulin is a structural protein that comes in three different types, alpha, beta and gamma. Of these three different proteins, alpha tubulin and beta tubulin are almost always found bonded together. These bonded tubulin form heterodimers, these are the basic unit of microtubules in eukaryotic cells. “Microtubules form a framework for structures such as the spindle apparatus that appears during cell division, or the whip like organelles known as cilia and flagella” (Caprette, N.D.). Microtubules are incredibly important to the structure and function of most eukaryotic cells. Without it our cells would not be able to move, transport, or even divide properly.

The protein was also found in many of the great apes. The species in which we have the most genomic similarities are common chimps, orangutans, and bonobo chimps. They all have this gene, and it is expressed as a protein. But even our more distant relatives on the tree of life have this protein, because it is in almost all eukaryotic cells. 

Even if the gene is found in both the organisms tested, the protein does not have to be. This is called gene regulation. Just because your DNA sequences have a certain coding area, your body controls what is being coded. So if your DNA might just be keeping the gene incase it might need it, and never use it.

If tubulin showed up in lots of different animals when one can assume that tubulin came into the terms of evolution early on in life’s history. Because according to evolution all living things have evolved from a common ancestor, and have split off from that ancestor into all the different species there are today. The Tubulin protein and gene are found in almost all eukaryotic cells, whether animal, fungi, plant, or protist. This being said that means that tubulin must have evolved early on.

The use of DNA in these studies of evolutionary relationships is important in discovering distant relationships between animals that one might now have guessed otherwise. We can used these DNA sequences to determine where certain genes and proteins first developed in human history. This does not mean that other animal characteristics are unimportant. Physical features and structures of organisms matter as well. DNA only reinforces the idea what organisms are related to each other.

 

Citations

Caprette, D. (n.d.). Structures and functions of microtubules. Experimental Biosciences. Retrieved from: http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~bioslabs/studies/invertebrates/microtubules.html

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