Cloning of flagellar genes in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii by DNA insertional mutagenesis

L. W. Tam, P. A. Lefebvre

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Abstract

Chlamydomonas is a popular genetic model system for studying many cellular processes. In this report, we describe a new approach to isolate Chlamydomonas genes using the cloned nitrate reductase gene (NIT 1) as an insertional mutagen. A linearized plasmid containing the NIT 1 gene was introduced into nit 1 mutant cells by glass-bead transformation. Of 3000 Nit+ transformants examined, 74 showed motility defects of a wide range of phenotypes, suggesting that DNA transformation is an effective method for mutagenizing cells. For 13 of 15 such motility mutants backcrossed to nit- mutant strains, the motility phenotype cosegregated with the Nit+ phenotype, indicating that the motility defects of these 13 mutants may be caused by integration of the plasmid. Further genetic analysis indicated that three of these mutants contained alleles of previously identified loci: mbo2 (move backward only), pf13 (paralyzed flagella) and vfl 1 (variable flagellar number). Three other abnormal-flagellar-number mutants did not map to any previously described loci at which mutations produce similar phenotypes. Genomic sequences flanking the integrated plasmid in the mbo2 and vfl1 mutants were isolated and used as probes to obtain wild-type genomic clones, which complemented the motility defects upon transformation into cells. Our results demonstrate the potential of this new approach for cloning genes identified by mutation in Chlamydomonas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
JournalGenetics
Volume135
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

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