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The ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena has two nuclei: a germ line micronucleus and a somatic macronucleus. The transcriptionally active macronucleus has about 50 copies of each chromosome. At sexual reproduction (conjugation), the parental macronucleus is degraded and new macronucleus develops from a mitotic product of the zygotic micronucleus. Development of the macronucleus involves massive genome remodeling, including deletion of about 6000 specific internal eliminated sequences (IES) and multiple rounds of DNA replication. A gene encoding a putative signal transduction receptor, ASI2, (anlagen stage induced 2) is up-regulated during development of the new macronuclei (anlagen). Macronuclear ASI2 is nonessential for vegetative growth. Homozygous ASI2 germ line knockout cells with wild type parental macronuclei proceed through mating but arrest at late macronuclear anlagen development and die before the first post-conjugation fission. IES elimination occurs in these cells. Two rounds of postzygotic DNA replication occur normally in progeny of ASI2 germ line knockouts, but endoreduplication of the macronuclear genome is arrested. The germ line ASI2 null phenotype is rescued in a mating of a knockout strain with wild type cells.
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