Molecular subdivision of the cortex of dividing Tetrahymena is coupled with the formation of the fission zone

Dev Biol. 1999 Aug 1;212(1):150-64. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1999.9362.


In contrast to a mitotic-spindle-associated bipolar cytokinesis, the cytokinesis of polarized ciliates is preceded by a reorganization of the cortex into dual metameric patterns for prospective daughter cells and then separated by a transverse fission line. This study concerns relations between the generation of cortical metamery and the formation of the fission line in an amicronuclear (i.e., without mitotic spindle) ciliate, Tetrahymena pyriformis. The fission line appears in the division of T. pyriformis as a transverse line formed by equatorial gaps in the meridional ciliary rows, with the second oral structure (OA2) formed posterior to it. It was found that the metamery of cortical morphogenesis is expressed by the appearance of increased MPM2 antibody binding in dividing cells in an apical area and posterior to the fission line gaps, including patterned changes of this binding in both oral apparatuses (OA1 and OA2), and by a reciprocal decrease of binding of an anti-epiplasm antibody. These tested antigens are localized to different cortical structures, but in predividing cells both uniformly show formation of the fission line contrast of labeling. A serine/threonine kinase inhibitor, 6-dimethylaminopurine (6-DMAP), was applied to dividing T. pyriformis at specific stages: (1) if 6-DMAP was added to early dividing cells, it prevented cells from initiating cytokinesis. (2) If 6-DMAP was added to cells at stages close to the physiological transition point of cell division, it yielded either (i) a partial formation of the fission line on the ventral side, combined with modified growth of undivided cortex adjacent to the fission line, with abnormal cytokinesis, or (ii) variable anterior displacement of the complete fission line, which contracted slowly but uniformly. (3) If 6-DMAP was applied during cytokinesis, it did not delay cell division, but daughter cells become abnormal and underwent an incomplete oral reorganization. These results suggest that the generation of metamerism in the cortex of T. pyriformis involves differentiation of the asymmetric fission zone. At least four stage-dependent 6-DMAP-sensitive effects jointly control the progress of cell division and the mutual spatial relations between the generation of metamery and the appearance, completeness, and position of the fission zone in the cortex of polarized T. pyriformis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Emetine / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis / drug effects
  • Phosphoproteins / immunology
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Tetrahymena / drug effects
  • Tetrahymena / immunology
  • Tetrahymena / metabolism*
  • Tetrahymena / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • N(6),N(6)-dimethyladenine
  • Adenine
  • Emetine