Antisera raised against vegetative and gametic flagella of Chlamydomonas reinhardi have been used to probe dynamic properties of the flagellar membranes. The antisera, which agglutinate cells via their flagella, associate with antigens that are present on both vegetative and gametic membranes and on membranes of both mating types (mt+ and mt-). Gametic cells respond to antibody presentation very differently from vegetative cells, mobilizing even high concentrations of antibody towards the flagellar tips; the possibility is discussed that such "tipping" ability reflects a differentiated gametic property relevant to sexual agglutinability. Gametic cells also respond to antibody agglutination by activating their mating structures, the mt+ reaction involving a rapid polymerization of microfilaments. Several impotent mt+ mutant strains that fail to agglutinate sexually are also activated by the antisera and procede to form zygotes with normal mt- gametes. Fusion does not occur between activated cells of like mating type. Monovalent (Fab) preparations of the antibody fail to activate mt+ gametes, suggesting that the cross-linking properties of the antisera are essential for their ability to mimic, or bypass, sexual agglutination.

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