An olympian protozoan


Unicellular eukaryotes have contributed mightily to cell biology and we tend to immediately think of yeast, properly enough. But another group of single-cell organisms has played an exceptional role and continues to do so: ciliates of the genus Tetrahymena. This organism enabled the discovery of the telomeric DNA repeat, telomerase and self-splicing RNA, as well as figuring prominently in the recognition of histone modifications as an epigenetic mechanism.  This brief essay summarizes these advances, in honor of those who have given Tetrahymena its place in the pantheon of model systems for the investigation of the nucleus- this its “special feature.”

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An olympian protozoan