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Aditi Vyas, Anna V. Freitas, Zachary A. Ralston, and Zhaohua Tang. 2021. A Unicellular “Micromammal” Model Organism. Current Protocols 1, Issue 6/e151: . Full Article

The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is a rod-shaped unicellular eukaryote, well known for its contributions as a model organism for our understanding of regulation and conservation of the eukaryotic cell cycle. As a yeast divergent from the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, S. pombe shares more common features with humans including gene structures, chromatin dynamics, and the prevalence of introns, as well as the control of gene expression through pre-mRNA splicing, epigenetic gene silencing, and RNAi pathways. With the advent of new methodologies for research, S. pombe has become an increasingly used model to investigate various molecular and cellular processes over the last 50 years. Also, S. pombe serves as an excellent system for undergraduate students to obtain hands-on research experience. Versatile experimental approaches are amenable using the fission yeast system due to its relative ease of maintenance, its inherent cellular properties, its power in classic and molecular genetics, and its feasibility in genomics and proteomics analyses. This article provides an overview of S. pombe’s rise as a valuable model organism and presents examples to highlight the significance of S. pombe as a unicellular “micromammal” in investigating biological questions. We especially focus on the advantages of and the advancements in using fission yeast for studying biological processes that are characteristic of metazoans to decipher the underlining molecular mechanisms fundamental to all eukaryotes.

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