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Analysis of exocytosis mutants indicates close coupling between regulated secretion and transcription activation in Tetrahymena

The National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Publication Date
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biology


Stimulation of regulated secretory cells promotes protein release via the fusion of cytoplasmic storage vesicles with the plasma membrane. In Tetrahymena thermophila, brief exposure to secretagogue results in synchronous fusion of the entire set of docked dense-core granules with the plasma membrane. We show that stimulation is followed by rapid new dense-core granule synthesis involving gene induction. Two genes encoding granule matrix proteins, GRL1 and GRL4, are shown to undergo induction following stimulation, resulting in ≈10-fold message accumulation within 1 h. The mechanism of induction involves transcriptional regulation, and the upstream region of GRL1 functions in vivo as an inducible promoter in a heterologous reporter construct using the gene encoding green fluorescent protein. Taking advantage of the characterized exocytosis (exo−) mutants available in this system, we asked whether the signals for regranulation were generated directly by the initial stimulation, or whether downstream events were required for transcription activation. Three mutants, with defects at three distinct stages in the regulated secretory pathway, failed to show induction of GRL1 and GRL4 after exposure to secretagogue. These results argue that regranulation depends upon signals generated by the final steps in exocytosis.

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