|My favorite cell?Paramecium.|
Category: secretion ¤ Added: Jul 04, 2002 ¤ Rating: ◊
A Paramecium cell has a stereotypically patterned surface, with regularly arranged cilia, dense-core secretory vesicles and subplasmalemmal calcium stores. Less strikingly, there is also a patterning of molecules; for instance, some ion channels are restricted to certain regions of the cell surface. This design may explain very effective and selective responses, such as that to Ca2þ upon stimulation. It enables the cell to respond to a Ca2þ signal precisely secretion (exocytosis) or by changing its ciliary activity. These responses depend on the location and/or type of signal, even though these two target structures co-exist side-by-side, and normally only limited overlap occurs between the different functions. Furthermore, the patterning of exocytotic sites and the possibility of synchronous exocytosis induction in the sub-second time range have considerably facilitated analyses, and thus led to new concepts of exocytotic membrane fusion. It has been possible to dissect complicated events like overlapping Ca2þ fluxes produced from external sources and from internal stores. Since molecular genetic approaches have become available for Paramecium, many different gene products have been identified only some of which are known from ??higher?? eukaryotes. Although a variety of basic cellular functions are briefly addressed to demonstrate the uniqueness of this unicellular organism, this article focuses on exocytosis regulation.