Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

VanHouten, Judith L.


Paramecium, a unicellular ciliate, can be attracted by various chemical stimuli. Chemoattractants such as glutamate, folate, cAMP, and acetate activate different receptor mediated signal transduction pathways. The final event in these signal transductions is a hyperpolarization of membrane potential, which makes Paramecium swim smoothly and fast. There is evidence that the effecter of this hyperpolarization is the plasma membrane calcium ATPase (PMCA), that when activated, expels Ca2+ from the cell. In Paramecium three PMCA isoforms, named PMCA2, 3, and 4, have been cloned. PMCA2 is associated with lipid rafts, which is demonstrated by its resistance to cold detergent solubilization and distribution in sucrose density gradients in ultracentrifugation. PMCA3 and 4 are not associated with lipid rafts. On the cell surface, PMCAs are localized to the bases of cilia. Sterol-depletion by methyl-ß-cyclodextrin (MßCD) treatment disrupts the distribution of PMCA2 in sucrose density gradients and ciliary base-localization on the cell surface. MßCD treatment also decreases the chemoattraction to glutamate and cAMP. This indicates that PMCA2 and its association with lipid rafts are essential in the chemoattraction signal transduction pathways. Based on these results, a model of membrane domains incorporating three signal transduction pathways is proposed.