, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 1-18

Comparison of the sequences of macro- and micronuclear DNA of Tetrahymena pyriformis

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Macro- and micronuclei were isolated from Tetrahymena pyriformis (Syngen 1, strain WH-6) and their DNAs compared by isopycnic centrifugation in neutral and alkaline CsCl, by analysis of thermal denaturation properties and by molecular hybridization. Unlike the situation observed in Stylonychia the buoyant densities and thermal denaturation patterns of Tetrahymena macro- and micronuclear DNAs were virtually identical—the only observable differences bordering on the limits of resolution of these techniques. DNA was isolated from the two nuclei which had been labelled with different radioactive isotopes (i.e. 14C-thymidine and 3H-thymidine), and the renaturation kinetics of mixtures of macro- and micronuclear DNA were examined using a single-strand specific deoxyribonuclease (S1). Renaturation kinetics obtained using varying ratios of macro- and micronuclear DNA suggested that 80–90% of the sequences present in micronuclei were present in similar amounts in macronuclei. However, careful analyses of the renaturation kinetics indicate that approximately 10–20% of the sequences found in micronuclei are probably absent in macronuclei, and that most of these sequences are probably moderately repetitive (100 copies per genome or less). These findings place severe constraint on possible models concerning the structure of the Tetrahymena macronucleus, and are very different from the situation observed in Stylonychia where it has been suggested that only a small percentage of the sequences in micronuclei are present in significant amounts in macronuclei. Nonetheless, these results along with those in Stylonychia can be taken as an indication that the loss or under-replication of some DNA sequences accompanies macronuclear differentiation in ciliates.