In the ciliated protozoan Blepharisma, step-up photophobic response is believed to be mediated by a novel type of photosensory pigment known as “blepharismins“ (BL) that are contained in the pigment granules located just beneath the plasma membrane. We examined the ultrastructure of the pigment granules by freeze-fracture and thin-section electron microscopy and proposed a schematic diagram showing the granules' three-dimensional inner membranous structure. Some of the BL are suggested to be associated with 200 kDa membrane protein. High-pressure liquid chromatography analysis of pigment species associated with 200 kDa protein obtained from blue forms of Blepharisma (oxyblepharisma) revealed that the 200 kDa protein was associated with five types of oxyblepharismin. The fluorescence intensity was increased when the pigments were dissociated from the 200 kDa protein. The result supports the hypothesis that the pigment–200 kDa complex is able to transduce light energy into signals mediating the photobehavior of Blepharisma.
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Vol. 72 • No. 5