The membrane-trafficking system is a defining facet of eukaryotic cells. The best-known organelles and major protein families of this system are largely conserved across the vast diversity of eukaryotes, implying both ancient organization and functional unity. Nonetheless, intriguing variation exists that speaks to the evolutionary forces that have shaped the endomembrane system in eukaryotes and highlights ways in which membrane trafficking in protists differs from that in our well-understood models of mammalian and yeast cells. Both parasites and free-living protists possess specialized trafficking organelles, some lineage specific, others more widely distributed — the evolution and function of these organelles begs exploration. Novel members of protein families are present across eukaryotes but have been lost in humans. These proteins may well hold clues to understanding differences in cellular function in organisms that are of pressing importance for planetary health.
More K., Klinger C.M., Barlow L.D., Dacks J.B. 2020: Evolution and natural history of membrane trafficking. Current Biology 30: R553–R564. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.03.068