The eyespot organelle of the green alga Chlamydomonas allows the cell to phototax toward (or away) from light to maximize the light intensity for photosynthesis and minimize photo-damage. At cytokinesis, the eyespot is resorbed at the cleavage furrow and two new eyespots form in the daughter cells 180 degrees from each other. The eyespots are positioned asymmetrically with respect to the microtubule cytoskeleton. Eyespots are assembled from all three chloroplast membranes and carotenoid-filled granules, which form a sandwich structure overlaid by the tightly apposed plasma membrane. This review describes (1) my interest in cellular asymmetry and organelle biology, (2) isolation of mutations that describe four genes governing eyespot placement and assembly, (3) the characterization of the EYE2 gene, which encodes a thioredoxin superfamily member, and (4) the characterization of the MIN1 gene, which is required for the layered organization of granules and membranes in the eyespot. BioEssays 25:410-416, 2003.
Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.