Trichocyst phenotype transformation induced by macronuclear transplantation in Paramecium tetraurelia. Academic Article uri icon


  • A portion of the macronucleus of wild-type cells of Paramecium tetraurelia was removed and was injected into cells homozygous for the ftA mutation. The ftA mutants make defective trichocysts and are unable to perform normal trichocyst exocytosis. After injection, approx. 30% of the surviving cells show a phenotype shift from mutant to wild-type. This shift is stable during subsequent vegetative growth until clonal death. If, however, the hybrid cell lines are brought to autogamy (which discards the existing macronucleus and forms a new one from sexual products derived from a micronucleus), then the lines revert to the ftA phenotype. Since micronuclei were not transplanted, the phenotypic reversion after autogamy is to be expected, and demonstrates that the transformation affects the macronucleus only. A second series of injections involved transfer of a portion of the macronucleus from cells homozygous for the trichocyst ptA mutation into ftA host cells. These two mutations are genetically complementary, so the injection should be genetically equivalent to forming a double heterozygote. Approx. 20% of the injection survivors shift to wild-type. This shift is also vegetatively stable unless autogamy occurs; after autogamy, reversion to the ftA phenotype is seen. These results show that a portion of a macronucleus can be successfully transplanted from one cell to another and that, in the host cytoplasmic environment, normal gene expression and replication of a transplanted macronucleus does occur. The technique of macronuclear transplantation is significant to studies of the macronuclear contribution to clonal aging, and to studies on genetic control over trichocyst development.

published proceedings

  • Exp Cell Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Aufderheide, K. J.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Aufderheide, KJ

publication date

  • January 1985