Green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged actin was used to investigate the distribution and function of actin in Tetrahymena. A strain that expresses both GFP-actin and endogenous actin was developed by transformation of Tetrahymena thermophila with a ribosomal DNA-based replicative vector. Confocal microscopy of living cells and immunogold electron microscopy confirmed localization of GFP-actin to basal bodies and the contractile ring. Incorporation of the fusion protein into these and other actin-related structures correlated with severe impairment of macronuclear elongation and cytokinesis. At 30 °C macronuclear elongation failed to occur in 25% of the transformants despite completion of micronuclear division. At 20 °C macronuclear elongation failed to occur in 2% of the population. Arrest of cytokinesis coincided with failure of macronuclear elongation. Arrested cells developed into homopolar doublets with two sets of oral structures. This study indicates a requirement for actin in nuclear elongation and cytokinesis. Although GFP-actin can interfere with the functioning of actin-containing structures, the GFP-actin transformant strain can be used to monitor actin distribution and dynamics and is therefore an important new tool for further studies of Tetrahymena actin.
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Vol. 50 • No. 6