A dramatic stimulation of synthesis of flagellar proteins occurs in Chlamydomonas following flagellar removal or experimentally induced resorption of the flagella into the cell. In this report we show that this stimulation involves an increase in the levels of mRNAs for tubulin and many other flagellar proteins. Total RNA and poly(A) RNA were isolated from cells after deflagellation or flagellar resorption, and were then translated in the reticulocyte lysate system. Two-dimensional gel analysis of the translation products demonstrates that the RNA-directed in vitro synthesis of α and β tubulins, and a number of other flagellar proteins, increases after deflagellation or flagellar resorption. Surprisingly, the α-tubulin synthesized in vitro does not co-migrate on two-dimensional gels with mature flagellar α-tubulin. Moreover, in vivo labeling experiments show that the major α-tubulin synthesized in the cell after deflagellation co-migrates with the major α-tubulin made in vitro, not with the major α-tubulin present in the flagella. These results suggest that flagellar α-tubulin is synthesized as a precursor, and undergoes post-translational modification before assembly into the flagella. In addition, we report that the synthesis of tubulin and other flagellar proteins can be specifically inhibited, as well as stimulated. Treatment of cells with IBMX, which induces flagellar resorption, causes a marked decrease in the levels of translatable mRNAs for tubulin and other flagellar proteins, without affecting levels of mRNAs for nonflagellar proteins.
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We would like to thank Ann Cowan and Tim McKeithan for helpful discussions, and Ted Clark for assistance in preparing the manuscript. We also thank Stephen Remillard for his advice about processing Chlamydomonas for two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and Nam-Hai Chua for his advise on RNA isolation. We gratefully acknowledge the excellent technical assistance of Ditti Holub. This work was supported by research grants from the NIH. C. S. was supported by a post-doctoral fellowship from the American Cancer Society.