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Phenotypic and genetic analysis of "Chameleon," a paramecium mutant with an enhanced sensitivity to magnesium



Phenotypic and genetic analysis of "Chameleon," a paramecium mutant with an enhanced sensitivity to magnesium



Genetics 146(3): 871-880



Three mutant strains of Paramecium tetraurelia with an enhanced sensitivity to magnesium have been isolated. These new "Chameleon" mutants result from partial- or codominant mutations at a single locus, Cha. Whereas the wild type responded to 5 mM Mg2+ by swimming backward for 10-15 sec, Cha mutants responded with approximately 30 sec backward swimming. Electrophysiological analysis suggested that this behavior may be caused by slowing in the rate at which a Mg(2+)-specific ion conductance deactivates following membrane excitation. This would be consistent with an observed increase in the sensitivity of Cha mutants to nickel poisoning, since Ni2+ is also able to enter the cell via this pathway. More extensive behavioral analysis showed that Cha cells also overresponded to Na+, but there was no evidence for a defect in intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis that might account for a simultaneous enhancement of both the Mg2+ and Na+ conductances. The possibility that the Cha locus may encode a specific regulator of the Mg(2+)- and Na(+)-permeabilities is considered.

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Accession: 046973873

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PMID: 9215893


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