This study asks two questions: 1) whether Hsp90 is involved in the regulation of cortical patterning in Tetrahymena, and 2) if it is, whether specific defects in this regulation can be attributed to functional insufficiency of the Hsp90 molecule. To address question 1, we compared the effects of a specific inhibitor of Hsp90, geldanamycin, on population growth and on development of the oral apparatus in two Tetrahymena species, T. pyriformis and T. thermophila. We observed that geldanamycin inhibits population growth in both species at very low concentrations, and that it has far more severe effects on oral patterning in T. pyriformis than in T. thermophila. These effects are parallel to those of high temperature in the same two species, and provide a tentative affirmative answer to the first question. To address question 2, we ascertained the base sequence of the genes that encode the Hsp90 molecules which are induced at high temperatures in both Tetrahymena species, as well as corresponding sequences in Paramecium tetraurelia. Extensive comparative analyses of the deduced amino acid sequences of the Hsp90 molecules of the two Tetrahymena species indicate that on the basis of what we currently know about Hsp90 both proteins are equally likely to be functional. Phylogenetic analyses of Hsp90 amino acid sequences indicate that the two Tetrahymena Hsp90 molecules have undergone a similar number of amino acid substitutions from their most recent common ancestor, with none of these corresponding to any known functionally critical region of the molecule. Thus there is no evidence that the Hsp90 molecule of T. pyriformis is functionally impaired; the flaw in the control of cortical patterning is more likely to be caused by defects in mechanism(s) that mediate the response to Hsp90, as would be expected from the “Hsp90 capacitor” model of Rutherford and Lindquist.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2