Cyanidioschyzon merolae (C. merolae) is a primitive, unicellular species of red alga that is considered to be one of the simplest self-sustaining eukaryotes. The highly elementary nature of C. merolae makes it an excellent model organism for studying evolution as well as cell function and organelle communication. In our study, we hypothesize that C. merolae contains the minimal assembly of proteins to make up their Nuclear Pore Complexes (NPCs), and hence are the first ancestral NPCs. NPCs are essential for basic nuclear transport in the cell. They are embedded in the double membrane of the nucleus, the nuclear envelope (NE), which separates nuclear DNA from cytoplasmic organelles. The NE acts as a selective protective barrier, and active transport of molecules between the nucleus and the cytoplasm is facilitated mainly by nuclear NPCs in higher and lower eukaryotic cells. When not functioning properly or fully, NPCs are known to be involved in several types of human disease, including cancer, accelerated aging and Huntington’s Disease (HD).

Date of publication

Fall 12-10-2019

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Dr. Cheryl Cooper, Dr. Joseph Glavy, Dr. Ayman Hamouda, Dr. William Sorensen


Master of Science in Health Sciences