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  1. The giant ciliate Stentor coeruleus is a classical model system for studying regeneration and morphogenesis in a single cell. The anterior of the cell is marked by an array of cilia, known as the oral apparatus, which can be induced to shed and regenerate in a series of reproducible morphological steps, previously shown to require transcription. If a cell is cut in half, each half regenerates an intact cell. We used RNA sequencing (RNAseq) to assay the dynamic changes in Stentor’s transcriptome during regeneration, after both oral apparatus shedding and bisection, allowing us to identify distinct temporal waves of gene expression including kinases, RNA -binding proteins, centriole biogenesis factors, and orthologs of human ciliopathy genes. By comparing transcriptional profiles of different regeneration events, we identified distinct modules of gene expression corresponding to oral apparatus regeneration, posterior holdfast regeneration, and recovery after wounding. By measuring gene expression after blocking translation, we show that the sequential waves of gene expression involve a cascade mechanism in which later waves of expression are triggered by translation products of early-expressed genes. Among the early-expressed genes, we identified an E2F transcription factor and the RNA-binding protein Pumilio as potential regulators of regeneration based on the expressionmore »pattern of their predicted target genes. RNAi-mediated knockdown experiments indicate that Pumilio is required for regenerating oral structures of the correct size. E2F is involved in the completion of regeneration but is dispensable for earlier steps. This work allows us to classify regeneration genes into groups based on their potential role for regeneration in distinct cell regeneration paradigms, and provides insight into how a single cell can coordinate complex morphogenetic pathways to regenerate missing structures.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 4, 2023
  2. Abstract Background Wound healing is one of the defining features of life and is seen not only in tissues but also within individual cells. Understanding wound response at the single-cell level is critical for determining fundamental cellular functions needed for cell repair and survival. This understanding could also enable the engineering of single-cell wound repair strategies in emerging synthetic cell research. One approach is to examine and adapt self-repair mechanisms from a living system that already demonstrates robust capacity to heal from large wounds. Towards this end, Stentor coeruleus , a single-celled free-living ciliate protozoan, is a unique model because of its robust wound healing capacity. This capacity allows one to perturb the wounding conditions and measure their effect on the repair process without immediately causing cell death, thereby providing a robust platform for probing the self-repair mechanism. Results Here we used a microfluidic guillotine and a fluorescence-based assay to probe the timescales of wound repair and of mechanical modes of wound response in Stentor . We found that Stentor requires ~ 100–1000 s to close bisection wounds, depending on the severity of the wound. This corresponds to a healing rate of ~ 8–80 μm 2 /s, faster than most other single cells reportedmore »in the literature. Further, we characterized three distinct mechanical modes of wound response in Stentor : contraction, cytoplasm retrieval, and twisting/pulling. Using chemical perturbations, active cilia were found to be important for only the twisting/pulling mode. Contraction of myonemes, a major contractile fiber in Stentor , was surprisingly not important for the contraction mode and was of low importance for the others. Conclusions While events local to the wound site have been the focus of many single-cell wound repair studies, our results suggest that large-scale mechanical behaviors may be of greater importance to single-cell wound repair than previously thought. The work here advances our understanding of the wound response in Stentor and will lay the foundation for further investigations into the underlying components and molecular mechanisms involved.« less
  3. Abstract

    Meiotic homolog pairing involves associations between homologous DNA regions scattered along the length of a chromosome. When homologs associate, they tend to do so by a processive zippering process, which apparently results from avidity effects. Using a computational model, we show that this avidity-driven processive zippering reduces the selectivity of pairing. When active random forces are applied to telomeres, this drop in selectivity is eliminated in a force-dependent manner. Further simulations suggest that active telomere forces are engaged in a tug-of-war against zippering, which can be interpreted as a Brownian ratchet with a stall force that depends on the dissociation constant of pairing. When perfectly homologous regions of high affinity compete with homeologous regions of lower affinity, the affinity difference can be amplified through this tug of war effect provided the telomere force acts in a range that is strong enough to oppose zippering of homeologs while still permitting zippering of correct homologs. The degree of unzippering depends on the radius of the nucleus, such that complete unzippering of homeologous regions can only take place if the nucleus is large enough to pull the two chromosomes completely apart. A picture of meiotic pairing thus emerges that is fundamentally mechanicalmore »in nature, possibly explaining the purpose of active telomere forces, increased nuclear diameter, and the presence of ‘Maverick’ chromosomes in meiosis.

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