MAR1 links membrane adhesion to membrane merger during cell-cell fusion in Chlamydomonas

Jennifer F. Pinello, Yanjie Liu, William J. Snell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Union of two gametes to form a zygote is a defining event in the life of sexual eukaryotes, yet the mechanisms that underlie cell-cell fusion during fertilization remain poorly characterized. Here, in studies of fertilization in the green alga, Chlamydomonas, we report identification of a membrane protein on minus gametes, Minus Adhesion Receptor 1 (MAR1), that is essential for the membrane attachment with plus gametes that immediately precedes lipid bilayer merger. We show that MAR1 forms a receptor pair with previously identified receptor FUS1 on plus gametes, whose ectodomain architecture we find is identical to a sperm adhesion protein conserved throughout plant lineages. Strikingly, before fusion, MAR1 is biochemically and functionally associated with the ancient, evolutionarily conserved eukaryotic Class II fusion protein HAP2 on minus gametes. Thus, the integral membrane protein MAR1 provides a molecular link between membrane adhesion and bilayer merger during fertilization in Chlamydomonas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3380-3392.e9
JournalDevelopmental cell
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 20 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Chlamydomonas
  • FUS1
  • GEX2
  • HAP2
  • MAR1
  • cell adhesion
  • cell-cell fusion
  • fertilization
  • gamete adhesion
  • gamete fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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