Although the role of cyclins in controlling nuclear division is well established, their function in ciliate meiosis remains unknown. In ciliates, the cyclin family has undergone massive expansion which suggests that diverse cell cycle systems exist, and this warrants further investigation. A screen for cyclins in the model ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila showed that there are 34 cyclins in this organism. Only 1 cyclin, Cyc17, contains the complete cyclin core and is specifically expressed during meiosis. Deletion of CYC17 led to meiotic arrest at the diakinesis-like metaphase I stage. Expression of genes involved in DNA metabolism and chromosome organization (chromatin remodeling and basic chromosomal structure) was repressed in cyc17 knockout matings. Further investigation suggested that Cyc17 is involved in regulating spindle pole attachment, and is thus essential for chromosome segregation at meiosis. These findings suggest a simple model in which chromosome segregation is influenced by Cyc17.
Keywords: Tetrahymena thermophila; anaphase initiation; chromosome segregation; cyclin; meiosis.