The Chlamydomonas flagellar surface exhibits a number of dynamic membrane phenomena associated with whole-cell gliding locomotion and the early events in fertilization. Crosslinking of a specific population of flagellar surface-exposed glycoproteins with the lectin concanavalin A or an anti-carbohydrate mouse monoclonal antibody, designated FMG-1, results in a characteristic pattern of glycoprotein redistribution within the plane of the flagellar membrane. Recent evidence suggests that flagellar membrane glycoprotein movements are associated with both whole-cell gliding motility and the early events in mating. It is of interest to determine the transmembrane signaling pathway whereby crosslinking of the external domains of flagellar glycoproteins activates the intraflagellar machinery responsible for translocation of flagellar membrane glycoproteins. The redistribution of flagellar membrane glycoproteins requires micromolar levels of free calcium in the medium; lowering the free calcium concentration to 10(−7) M results in complete but reversible inhibition of redistribution. Redistribution is maximal in the presence of 20 microM free calcium in the medium. Redistribution is inhibited in the presence of 20 microM free calcium by the calmodulin antagonists trifluoperazine, W-7 and calmidazolium, the calcium channel blockers diltiazem, methoxyverapamil (D-600) and barium chloride, and the local anesthetics, lidocaine and procaine. The actions of all of these agents can be interpreted in terms of a requirement for calcium in the signaling mechanism associated with flagellar glycoprotein redistribution. In particular, the requirement for micromolar calcium in the external medium and the effects of specific calcium channel blockers suggest that flagellar membrane glycoprotein crosslinking may induce an increase in calcium influx, which may be the initial trigger for activating the flagellar machinery responsible for active movement of flagellar membrane glycoproteins.

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