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Dev Biol. 1997 Sep 15;189(2):215-32.

A mutational analysis of conjugation in Tetrahymena thermophila. 1. Phenotypes affecting early development: meiosis to nuclear selection.

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Biology Department, St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota 55057, USA.


Conjugation in the freshwater ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila involves a developmental program that models meiosis, fertilization, and early developmental events characteristic of multicellular eukaryotes. We describe a gallery of five early-acting conjugation mutations. These mutants, cnj1-5, exhibit phenotypes in which specific steps in the conjugal pathway have been altered or eliminated. Specifically, cnj1 and cnj2 fail to condense their micronuclear chromatin prior to each of the three prezygotic nuclear divisions. This results in nuclear division failure, failure to replicate DNA, and failure to initiate postzygotic development. The cnj3 mutant appears to exhibit a defect in chromosome separation during anaphase of mitosis. cnj4 mutants successfully carry out meiosis I, yet are unable to execute the second meiotic division and abort all further development. cnj5 mutants are unable to initiate either meiosis I or meiosis II, yet proceed to execute all subsequent developmental events. These mutant phenotypes are used to draw inferences regarding developmental dependencies that exist within the conjugation program.

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