Studies of the ciliate cell cycle have moved from early examination of its biochemistry with heat-synchronized Tetrahymena through descriptive studies of Paramecium using small synchronous cell samples. These studies described what happens during the cell cycle and provided some initial insights into control, especially the idea that there was a point at which cells became committed to division. This early work was followed by an analytical phase in which the same small sample techniques, combined with gene mutations, were used to tease apart some major features of the regulation of cell growth kinetics, including regulation of macronuclear DNA content and regulation of cell size, the control of timing of initiation of macronuclear DNA synthesis, and the control of commitment to division in Paramecium. The availability of new molecular genetic approaches and new means of manipulating cells en masse made it possible to map out some of the basic features of the molecular biology of cell cycle regulation in ciliates. The challenge before us is to move beyond the ‘me-too-ism’ of validating the presence of basic molecular regulative machinery underlying the cell cycle in ciliates to a deeper analysis of the role of specific molecules in processes unique to ciliates or to analysis of the role of regulatory molecules in the control of cell process that can be uniquely well studied in ciliates.
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Vol. 48 • No. 5