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Dev Genet. 1992;13(1):58-65.

Mutation affecting cell separation and macronuclear resorption during conjugation in Tetrahymena thermophila: early expression of the zygotic genotype.

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  • 1Department of Cytology, University of Warsaw, Poland.


A new recessive conjugation lethal mutation was found in Tetrahymena thermophila which was named mra for macronuclear resorption arrest. Other events affected by the mra mutations are separation of pairs, DNA replication in the macronuclear anlagen, and resorption of one of the two micronuclei. In wild-type crosses 50% of the pairs had separated by 12 hr after mixing two mating types and had completed resorption of the old macronucleus 1-2 hr later. In contrast most mra conjugants did not separate even by 24 hr after mixing and the old relic (condensed) macronucleus was seen in over 90% of them. After addition of 10 mM calcium to the conjugation medium, the mra conjugants did separate but they still failed to complete resorption of the old macronucleus and to replicate macronuclear anlagen DNA in the exconjugants. The calcium induced separation of the mra conjugants occurred later than the separation of control pairs. During normal conjugation cell separation occurs before the first expression of known macronuclear genes and prior to processing of the macronuclear DNA. Therefore, the mra phenotype infers that separation of conjugants requires a signal which is produced by the macronuclear anlagen at an unusually early time.

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