During the mating reaction (fertilization) in the biflagellated alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, mt+ and mt- gametes adhere to each other via their flagella and subsequently fuse to form quadriflagellated zygotes. In the studies reported here, we describe a monoclonal antibody directed against an mt+ flagellar surface molecule. The antibody blocks the adhesiveness of mt+ gametes, isolated mt+ flagella, and detergent extracts thereof. It has no effect on mt- gametes. Cyanogen bromide-activated Sepharose beads derivatized with the antibody bind only mt+ gametes; mt- gametes and mt+ and mt- vegetative cells are unreactive with the derivatized beads. The interaction of mt+ gametes with the beads is dynamic and cells continuously bind, detach, and rebind to the beads. Surprisingly, antibody-derivatized beads that have been incubated with mt+ gametes acquire the ability to bind mt- gametes. Moreover, extraction of the preincubated beads with detergents releases active mt+ adhesion molecules. The evidence suggests that binding of the antibody to the flagellar surface adhesion molecules causes their release from the flagellar surface, possibly mimicking the normal mechanism of flagellar de-adhesion.

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