Control of exocytotic processes: cytological and physiological studies of trichocyst mutants in Paramecium tetraurelia. Academic Article uri icon


  • The trichocysts of Paramecium tetraurelia constitute a favorable system for studying secretory process because of the numerous available mutations that block, at various stages, the development of these secretory vesicles, their migration towards and interaction with the cell surface, and their exocytosis. Previous studies of several mutants provided information (a) on the assembly and function of the intramembranous particles arrays in the plasma membrane at trichocyst attachment sites, (b) on the autonomous motility of trichocysts, required for attachment to the cortex, and (c) on a diffusible cytoplasmic factor whose interaction with both trichocyst and plasma membrane is required for exocytosis to take place. We describe here the properties of four more mutants deficient in exocytosis ability, nd6, nd7, tam38, and tam6, which were analyzed by freeze-fracture, microinjection of trichocysts, and assay for repair of the mutational defect through cell-cell interaction during conjugation with wild-type cells. As well as providing confirmation of previous conclusions, our observations show that the mutations nd6 and tam6 (which display striking abnormalities in their plasma membrane particle arrays and are reparable through cell-cell contact but not by microinjection of cytoplasm) affect two distinct properties of the plasma membrane, whereas the other two mutations affect different properties of the trichocysts. Altogether, the mutants so far analyzed now provide a rather comprehensive view of the steps and functions involved in secretory processes in Paramecium and demonstrate that two steps of these processes, trichocyst attachment to the plasma membrane and exocytosis, depend upon specific properties of both the secretory vesicle and the plasma membrane.

author list (cited authors)

  • Lefort-Tran, M., Aufderheide, K., Pouphile, M., Rossignol, M., & Beisson, J

citation count

  • 97

complete list of authors

  • Lefort-Tran, M||Aufderheide, K||Pouphile, M||Rossignol, M||Beisson, J

publication date

  • January 1981