The distribution of mitochondria during conjugation of the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila was surveyed using a mitochondrial stain and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). When the mitochondria-specific stain, Mito-Tracker, was used, the majority of mitochondria were detected in the cortex; their distribution was not changed during conjugation. On the other hand, FISH using mitochondrial large subunit (LSU) rRNA as a probe showed an unusual distribution of signals during conjugation. Unexpectedly, the signals were detected throughout the cytoplasm of conjugating cells. These signals were not observed in pre-mating cells and in exconjugants. The cytosolic localization of mitochondrial rRNA was supported by northern blot analysis using post-mitochondrial RNA fraction at the later stages of conjugation. These observations suggest selec-tive mitochondrial breakdown or transport of LSU rRNA into cytosol. The biological significance of the conjugation-specific appearance of the cytosolic mitochondrial rRNA is discussed.
2004 by The Genetics Society of Japan