Antisera have been raised in rabbits against three high molecular weight proteins that are present in Triton X-100-insoluble residues of Tetrahymena pyriformis GL cells. These proteins, called A, B and C, have apparent molecular weights of 235, 135 and 125 (X 10(3)), respectively, in SDS-polyacrylamide gels. The antisera obtained are specific for these proteins, as shown by immunoblotting. Immunolocalization studies are reported that suggest that these proteins are present throughout the epiplasmic layer beneath the cell surface (membrane skeleton). Images obtained with the fluorescence microscope, however, suggest that the membrane skeleton is modified in discrete zones: (1) around somatic basal bodies, (2) within the oral apparatus, (3) in the cytoproct, (4) in contractile vacuole pores, (5) in the fission zone in late division, and (6) at the mating junction in conjugating cells. These regions may represent areas of increased rigidity at the cell surface. The transition from pliable to rigid epiplasm in spatially delimited areas is apparently a recurring theme in cortical morphogenesis in Tetrahymena. Together, the two types of epiplasm probably allow for extensive changes in cell shape while preserving essential relationships between structural elements within the cortex.

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