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Mol Cell Biol. 1986 Sep;6(9):3240-5.

Structure and expression of two temperature-specific surface proteins in the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila.


The presence of specific proteins (known as immobilization antigens) on the surface of the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila is under environmental regulation. There are five different classes (serotypes) of surface proteins which appear on the cell surface when T. thermophila is cultured under different conditions of temperature or incubation medium; three of these are temperature dependent. The appearance of these proteins on the cell surface is mutually exclusive. We used polyclonal antibodies raised against 30 degrees C (designated SerH3)- and 40 degrees C (designated SerT)-specific surface antigens to study their structure and expression. We showed that these surface proteins contain at least one disulfide bridge. On sodium dodecyl sulfate-denaturing polyacrylamide gels, the nonreduced 30 degrees C- and 40 degrees C-specific surface proteins migrated with molecular sizes of 69 and 36 kilodaltons, respectively. The reduced forms of the proteins migrated with molecular sizes of 58 and 30 kilodaltons, respectively. The synthesis of the surface proteins responded rapidly and with a time course similar to that of the incubation temperature. The synthesis of each surface protein was greatly reduced within 1 h and undetectable by 2 h after a shift to the temperature at which the protein is not expressed. Surface protein synthesis resumed by the end of 1 h after a shift to the temperature at which the protein is expressed. The temperature-dependent induction of these surface proteins appears to be dependent on the synthesis of new mRNA, as indicated by a sensitivity to actinomycin D. Surface protein syntheses were mutually exclusive except at a transition temperature. At 35 degrees C both surface proteins were synthesized by a cell population. These data support the potential of this system as a model for the study of the effects of environmental factors on the genetic regulation of cell surface proteins.

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