The protozoan ciliate Stentor coeruleus displays a step-up photophobic response to an increase in light intensity in its environment. The motile response consists of a delayed stop of ciliary beating and transient ciliary reversal period. Such light-avoiding behavior was significantly influenced by an incubation of cells with l-cis-diltiazem, a common blocker of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)–gated ion channel conductance. The introduction of l-cis-diltiazem to the medium induced ciliary reversal in control cells, mimicking the step-up photophobic response. In light-stimulated ciliates, the presence of this inhibitor caused a substantial decrease of the latency of ciliary stop response, prolongation of the ciliary reversal duration and also an increase of cell photoresponsiveness in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The obtained behavioral results support the suggestion that the photosensitive ciliate S. coeruleus possesses cGMP-gated channels, which may be involved in the process of light signal transduction for the motile photophobic response.
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Vol. 77 • No. 3