Oxygen-sensing mechanisms across eukaryotic kingdoms and their roles in complex multicellularity

Researchers from the University of Oxford have published an interdisciplinary review paper, published today in Science, looking at unifying principles in oxygen sensing mechanisms across eukaryotes.

The team was made up of Francesco Licausi, Emily Flashman (Department of Biochemistry, Oxford), Sofie Mohlin (Cancer Biology, Lund University), and Emma Hammarlund (Geobiology, Lund University).

By comparing animals, plants, and fungi, researchers found indications that oxygen gradients are likely the unavoidable consequence of complex cellular organization. Different cell types have specific oxygen requirements and availability.

Dr Francesco Licausi, Associate Professor of Plant Sciences at Oxford, and lead author, said: ‘Writing such an interdisciplinary review has been challenging but, at the same time, extremely rewarding. Now we are looking forward to explore these novel concepts and hypotheses with experiments’.

The review also describes the dual role of oxygen sensing in informing the cells about environmental fluctuations both oxygen and endogen levels.

By studying molecular machineries that react to oxygen changes and their evolution, we can potentially reveal novel processes that are controlled by this parameter and explore new ways these systems could be used in clinical, industrial, and agricultural settings.