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Plant J. 2019 Nov 28. doi: 10.1111/tpj.14623. [Epub ahead of print]

Babo1, formerly Vop1 and Cop1/2, is no eyespot photoreceptor but a basal body protein illuminating cell division in Volvox carteri.

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Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology of Plants, University of Bielefeld, Universitätsstr 25, 33615, Bielefeld, Germany.


In photosynthetic organisms many processes are light dependent and sensing of light requires light-sensitive proteins. The supposed eyespot photoreceptor protein Babo1 (formerly Vop1) has previously been classified as an opsin due to the capacity for binding retinal. Here, we analyze Babo1 and provide evidence that it is no opsin. Due to the localization at the basal bodies, the former Vop1 and Cop1/2 proteins were renamed V.c. Babo1 and C.r. Babo1. We reveal a large family of more than 60 Babo1-related proteins from a wide range of species. The detailed subcellular localization of fluorescence-tagged Babo1 shows that it accumulates at the basal apparatus. More precisely, it is located predominantly at the basal bodies and to a lesser extent at the four strands of rootlet microtubules. We trace Babo1 during basal body separation and cell division. Dynamic structural rearrangements of Babo1 particularly occur right before the first cell division. In four-celled embryos Babo1 was exclusively found at the oldest basal bodies of the embryo and on the corresponding d-roots. The unequal distribution of Babo1 in four-celled embryos could be an integral part of a geometrical system in early embryogenesis, which establishes the anterior-posterior polarity and influences the spatial arrangement of all embryonic structures and characteristics. Due to its retinal-binding capacity, Babo1 could also be responsible for the unequal distribution of retinoids, knowing that such concentration gradients of retinoids can be essential for the correct patterning during embryogenesis of more complex organisms. Thus, our findings push the Babo1 research in another direction.


Chlamydomonas reinhardtii ; Volvox carteri ; Chlamyrhodopsin; Cop1/2; Volvoxrhodopsin; Vop1; basal apparatus; basal bodies; photoreceptor; tubulin


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