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J Genet. 2003 Apr-Aug;82(1-2):1-6.

Extreme nuclear disproportion and constancy of enzyme activity in a heterokaryon of Neurospora crassa.

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Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India.


Heterokaryons of Neurospora crassa were generated by transformation of multinucleate conidia of a histidine-3 auxotroph with his-3(+) plasmid. In one of the transformants, propagated on a medium with histidine supplementation, a gradual but drastic reduction occurred in the proportion of prototrophic nuclei that contained an ectopically integrated his-3(+) allele. This response was specific to histidine. The reduction in prototrophic nuclei was confirmed by several criteria: inoculum size test, hyphal tip analysis, genomic Southern analysis, and by visual change in colour of the transformant incorporating genetic colour markers. Construction and analyses of three-component heterokaryons revealed that the change in nuclear ratio resulted from interaction of auxotrophic nucleus with prototrophic nucleus that contained an ectopically integrated his-3(+) gene, but not with prototrophic nucleus that contained his-3(+) gene at the normal chromosomal location. The growth rate of heterokaryons and the activity of histidinol dehydrogenase - the protein encoded by the his-3(+) gene - remained unchanged despite prototrophic nuclei becoming very scarce. The results suggest that not all nuclei in the coenocytic fungal mycelium may be active simultaneously, the rare active nuclei being sufficient to confer the wild-type phenotype.

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