Social cellular aggregation or multicellular organization pose increased risk of transmission of infections through the system upon infection of a single cell. The generality of the evolutionary responses to this outside of Metazoa remains unclear. We report the discovery of several thematically-unified, remarkable biological conflict systems preponderantly present in multicellular prokaryotes. These combine thresholding mechanisms utilizing NTPase chaperones (the MoxR-vWA couple), GTPases and proteolytic cascades with hypervariable effectors, which vary either by using a reverse transcriptase-dependent diversity-generating system or through a system of acquisition of diverse protein modules, typically in inactive form, from various cellular subsystems. Conciliant lines of evidence indicate their deployment against invasive entities, like viruses, to limit their spread in multicellular/social contexts via physical containment, dominant-negative interactions or apoptosis. These findings argue for both a similar operational 'grammar' and shared protein domains in the sensing and limiting of infections during the multiple emergences of multicellularity.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Gurmeet Kaur
- A Maxwell Burroughs
- Lakshminarayan M Iyer
- L Aravind
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Alfonso Valencia, Barcelona Supercomputing Center - BSC, Spain
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