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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Biochemistry of the extracellular matrix of Volvox.

The volvocine algae range in complexity from unicellular Chlamydomonas to multicellular organisms in the genus Volvox. The transition from unicellularity to multicellularity in the Volvocales is a recent event in evolution. Thus, these organisms provide a unique opportunity for exploring the development of a complex extracellular matrix ( ECM) from the cell wall of a unicellular ancestor. The ECM of Volvox is divided into four main zones: The flagellar, boundary, cellular, and deep zones. Each zone is defined by ultrastructure and by characteristic ECM glycoproteins. Volvox ECM is modified under developmental control or in response to external stimuli, like the sex-inducing pheromone or stress factors. The structures of more than 10 ECM glycoproteins from a single species of Volvox are now known in molecular detail and are compared to other algal and plant cell wall/ ECM glycoproteins. Although usually classified as hydroxyproline-rich glycoproteins, the striking feature of all algal ECM glycoproteins is a modular composition. Rod-shaped hydroxyproline-rich modules are combined with hydroxyproline-free domains that meet the multiple functional requirements of a complex ECM. The algal ECM provides another example of the combinatorial advantage of shuffling modules that is so evident in the evolution of the metazoan ECMs.[1]


  1. Biochemistry of the extracellular matrix of Volvox. Sumper, M., Hallmann, A. Int. Rev. Cytol. (1998) [Pubmed]
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