Cilia pp 149-168 | Cite as

Methods for Studying Ciliary-Mediated Chemoresponse in Paramecium

  • Megan Smith Valentine
  • Judith L. Van HoutenEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1454)


Paramecium is a useful model organism for the study of ciliary-mediated chemical sensing and response. Here we describe ways to take advantage of Paramecium to study chemoresponse.

Unicellular organisms like the ciliated protozoan Paramecium sense and respond to chemicals in their environment (Van Houten, Ann Rev Physiol 54:639–663, 1992; Van Houten, Trends Neurosci 17:62–71, 1994). A thousand or more cilia that cover Paramecium cells serve as antennae for chemical signals, similar to ciliary function in a large variety of metazoan cell types that have primary or motile cilia (Berbari et al., Curr Biol 19(13):R526–R535, 2009; Singla V, Reiter J, Science 313:629–633, 2006). The Paramecium cilia also produce the motor output of the detection of chemical cues by controlling swimming behavior. Therefore, in Paramecium the cilia serve multiple roles of detection and response.

We present this chapter in three sections to describe the methods for (1) assaying populations of cells for their behavioral responses to chemicals (attraction and repulsion), (2) characterization of the chemoreceptors and associated channels of the cilia using proteomics and binding assays, and (3) electrophysiological analysis of individual cells’ responses to chemicals. These methods are applied to wild type cells, mutants, transformed cells that express tagged proteins, and cells depleted of gene products by RNA Interference (RNAi).

Key words

Paramecium T-Maze Chemoresponse Receptors Ciliary membrane Electrophysiology Deciliation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan Smith Valentine
    • 1
  • Judith L. Van Houten
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiologyThe University of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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