Mutants in Paramecium tetraurelia, unable to generate action potentials, have been isolated as cells which show no backward swimming in response to ionic stimulation. These "pawn" mutants belong to at least three complementation groups designated pwA, pwB, and pwC. We have found that microinjection of cytoplasm from a wild-type donor into a pawn recipient of any of the three complementation groups restores the ability of the pawn to generate action potentials and hence swim backward. In addition, the cytoplasm from a pawn cannot restore a recipient of the same complementation group, but that from a pawn of a different group can. Electrophysiological analysis had demonstrated that the restoration of backward swimming is not due to a simple addition of ions but represents a profound change in the excitable membrane of the recipient pawn cells. Using known pawn mutants and those which had previously been unclassified, we have been able to establish a perfect concordance of genetic complementation and complementation by cytoplasmic transfer through microinjection. This method has been used to classify pawn mutants that are sterile or hard-to-mate and to examine the ability of cytoplasms from different species of ciliated protozoa to restore the ability to swim backward in the pawn mutants of P. tetraurelia. A cell homogenate has also been fractionated by centrifugation to further purify the active components. These results demonstrate that transfer of cytoplasm between cells by microinjection can be a valid and systematic method to classify mutants. This test is simpler to perform than the genetic complementation test and can be used under favorable conditions in mutants that are sterile and in cells of different species.

This content is only available as a PDF.