During the mating reaction in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii mating type plus and mating type minus gametes adhere to each other via adhesion molecules on their flagellar surfaces. This adhesive interaction induces a sexual signal leading to release of a cell wall degrading enzyme, lysin, that causes wall release and degradation. In this article, we describe the preparation of a polyclonal antibody against the 60,000-Mr lysin polypeptide excised from SDS-PAGE gels. After absorption of the IgG with cell walls to remove antibodies against a carbohydrate epitope common to several Chlamydomonas glycoproteins, the immune IgG reacted with the 60,000-Mr polypeptide, and a 47,000-Mr species that we show here was immunologically cross-reactive with the 60,000-Mr molecule. By use of several fractionation methods including ion exchange and molecular sieve chromatography, sucrose gradient centrifugation, and affinity chromatography, we showed that the 60,000-Mr antigen copurified with lysin activity, thereby demonstrating that the antibody was indeed directed against the enzyme. Immunoblot experiments on suspensions of nonmating and mating gametes showed that the 60,000-Mr antigen was missing in the nonmating gametes. Instead, they contained a 62,000-Mr antigen that was not present in suspensions of mating gametes that had undergone sexual signalling. Furthermore, nonmating gametes whose walls were removed with exogenously added lysin did not contain either form of the antigen. We also found that the 62,000-Mr form of the antigen, which could be released from gametes by freeze-thawing, did not have wall degrading activity. These results indicate that lysin in gametes is stored in the periplasm as a higher relative molecular mass, inactive precursor and also that sexual signalling induces conversion of this molecule to a lower relative molecular mass, active enzyme. This may be a novel example of processing of an extracellular protease induced by cell contact.

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