Chlamydomonas cells respond to certain environmental stimuli by shedding their flagella. Flagellar loss induces a rapid, transient increase in expression of a specific set of genes encoding flagellar proteins, and assembly of a new flagellar pair. While flagellar gene expression and initiation of flagellar outgrowth are normally tightly coupled to flagellar excision, our results demonstrate that these processes can be uncoupled by manipulating Ca2+ levels or calmodulin activity. In our experiments, wild-type cells were stimulated to excise their flagella using mechanical shearing, and at times after deflagellation, flagellar lengths were measured and flagellar mRNA abundance changes were determined by S1 nuclease protection analysis. When extracellular Ca2+ was lowered by addition of EGTA to cultures before excision, flagellar mRNA abundance changes and flagellar outgrowth were temporally uncoupled from flagellar excision. When extracellular Ca2+ was lowered immediately after excision or when calmodulin activity was inhibited with W-7, flagellar outgrowth was uncoupled from flagellar excision and flagellar mRNA abundance changes. Whenever events in the process of flagellar regeneration were temporally uncoupled, the magnitude of the flagellar mRNA abundance change was reduced. These results suggest that flagellar gene expression may be regulated by multiple signals generated from these events, and implicate Ca2+ as a factor in the mechanisms controlling flagellar regeneration.

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