Genetic and epigenetic factors affecting meiosis induction in eukaryotes revealed in Paramecium research
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This review presents studies of the induction of meiosis undertaken on the ciliate Paramecium, a unicellular model eukaryotic organism. Meiosis in Paramecium, preceding the process of fertilization, appears in starved cells after passing a defined number of divisions (cell generations), starting from the last fertilization. Investigations were performed on clones of cells entering autogamy, a self-fertilization process. Genetic as well as epigenetic factors, i.e. endo- and exogenous factors, affecting the induction of meiosis and changing the duration of the interautogamous interval (IAI), were analyzed. The results show that: (1) Meiosis induction is controlled genetically by the somatic macronucleus. However, besides the nuclear factors, the cytoplasmic protein immaturin also affects this process (HAGA & HIWATASHI 1981); (2) Epigenetic factors, such as non-genetically disturbed cytoskeleton structures and changes in the cell architecture observed in doublet Paramecium cells, exert internal mechanical stress (INGBER 2003), which constitutes the endogenous impulse accelerating meiosis; (3) Mild osmotic stress, acting as an exogenous factor, can initiate the specific MAP kinases signaling pathway resulting in earlier meiosis induction, as in other unicellular eukaryotes (SEET & PAWSON 2004).
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Malgorzata Prajer, Department of Experimental Zoology, Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Sciences, Slawkowska 17, 31-016 Krakow, Poland