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Genetics. 1987 Sep;117(1):13-23.

Nucleo-cytoplasmic interaction during macronuclear differentiation in ciliate protists: genetic basis for cytoplasmic control of SerH expression during macronuclear development in Tetrahymena thermophila.

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Department of Biology, Cleveland State University, Ohio 44115.


A novel class of mutations affecting the developmental expression of SerH cell surface antigen genes of Tetrahymena thermophila is described. Unlike previous categories of mutation, the four independently isolated mutations of this class act through the cytoplasm to affect SerH genes during macronuclear development. That is, macronuclei which develop under the influence of mutant cytoplasm do not subsequently express H, most likely because the developmental processing of SerH genes is affected. The cytoplasmic effect is specific for the SerH locus and is independent of which SerH allele is present. In place of H, hitherto unknown antigens are expressed. Expression of SerH can be rescued during development either by wild-type cytoplasm exchanged between conjugants or by the homozygous wild-type genotype. The mutations segregate independently of the SerH genes and identify one, possibly two, bistable genes. Possible models to explain these results are discussed.

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