Ciliated protozoa display a nuclear dualism, with germinal micronuciei and a somatic macronucleus. During mitosis, which proceeds without disruption of the nuclear envelope, a spindle is organized within the micronucleus from, presumably, intranuclear microtubule-organizing centres (MTOCs). In order to characterize these MTOCs, monoclonal antibodies generated against human centrosomes were screened on several ciliates and particularly on Paramecium tetraurelia. In this ciliate, the monoclonal antibody CTR 532, which decorates centrosomal and spindle-associated components in mammalian cells, specifically labelled the micronuclei during interphase. At the electron-microscope level, it stained a fibrous material surrounding microtubules localized on the inner face of the nuclear envelope. During mitosis this decoration extended all over the metaphase spindle. At all stages of the cell cycle, the decoration remained specific to the micronucleus and was absent not only from all of the various cytoplasmic and cortical microtubule arrays but also from the macronuclei, even at early stages of their development from the zygotic nucleus. CTR 532 recognizes a single 170x103 Mr polypeptide in the cytoskeletal fraction that contains micronuclei and this polypeptide is absent in the cytoskeletal fraction of amicronucleate cells.

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