Although largely bilaterally symmetric, the two sides of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii can be distinguished by the location of the single eyespot. When viewed from the anterior end, the eyespot is always closer to one flagellum than the other, and located at an angle of approximately 45 degrees clockwise of the flagellar plane. This location correlates with the position of one of four acetylated microtubule bundles connected to the flagellar apparatus. Each basal body is attached to two of these microtubule rootlets. The rootlet that positions the eyespot is always attached to the same basal body, which is the daughter of the parental/daughter basal body pair. At mitosis, the replicated basal body pairs segregate in a precise orientation that maintains the asymmetry of the cell and results in mitotic poles that have an invariant handedness. The fusion of gametic cells during mating is also asymmetric. As a result of asymmetric, but different, locations of the plus and minus mating structures, mating preferentially results in quadriflagellate dikaryons with parallel flagellar pairs and both eyespots on the same side of the cell. This asymmetric fusion, as well as all the other asymmetries described, may be necessary for the proper phototactic behavior of these cells. The invariant handedness of the spindle pole, eyespot position, and mating structure position appears to be based on the inherent asymmetry of the basal body pair, providing an example of how an intracellular pattern can be determined and maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) Pt 2/-
JournalJournal of cell science
StatePublished - Oct 1989


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