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Genetics. 1999 Oct;153(2):721-9.

Eyespot-assembly mutants in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

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Department of Biology, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington 98416-0320, USA.


Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a single-celled green alga that phototaxes toward light by means of a light-sensitive organelle, the eyespot. The eyespot is composed of photoreceptor and Ca(++)-channel signal transduction components in the plasma membrane of the cell and reflective carotenoid pigment layers in an underlying region of the large chloroplast. To identify components important for the positioning and assembly of a functional eyespot, a large collection of nonphototactic mutants was screened for those with aberrant pigment spots. Four loci were identified. eye2 and eye3 mutants have no pigmented eyespots. min1 mutants have smaller than wild-type eyespots. mlt1(ptx4) mutants have multiple eyespots. The MIN1, MLT1(PTX4), and EYE2 loci are closely linked to each other; EYE3 is unlinked to the other three loci. The eye2 and eye3 mutants are epistatic to min1 and mlt1 mutations; all double mutants are eyeless. min1 mlt1 double mutants have a synthetic phenotype; they are eyeless or have very small, misplaced eyespots. Ultrastructural studies revealed that the min1 mutants are defective in the physical connection between the plasma membrane and the chloroplast envelope membranes in the region of the pigment granules. Characterization of these four loci will provide a beginning for the understanding of eyespot assembly and localization in the cell.

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