We analyzed temperature-induced changes of variant surface antigen (vsAg) expression in Paramecium primaurelia, using immuno-techniques and mRNA determinations. Upon a 23°C to 33°C shift, the old vsAg, type 156G, remains on the cell surface for a time, when already mRNA for the new form, 156D, is expressed. A considerable amount of 156D-specific mRNA is formed 45–48 h after the temperature shift, while 156D surface expression reaches maximal levels only after >72 h. A new aspect of these experiments is that, during this transition, the old vsAg is steadily released in high-molecular-weight form into the culture medium, as found by dot blot and Western blot analysis of concentrated culture medium. The new vsAg form is first inserted into the somatic cell membrane, before it spreads also into cilia. In the reverse transition, 33°C to 23°C, the adaptation on the level of transcription and surface expression is considerably faster. While we had previously shown, under steady-state conditions (constant temperature), the occurrence of a degradation pathway by endocytotic and phagocytotic ingestion of vsAg this may proceed in parallel to the steady release of old vsAg from the cell surface into the medium. Altogether these combined processes may facilitate the installation of the new vsAg type.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2004
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