Proline-glycine, proline-leucine and proline-valine dipeptides and their retro variants were used in the experiments to study the effects of pretreatment (imprinting) in Tetrahymena, by investigating fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated peptide binding. The protozoan organism could differentiate between the proline-dipeptides containing different partner amino-acids and between the dipeptides having the amino acids in reversed positions. The effect of imprinting was positive or negative and this was dependent on the type of the partner amino acid and on its position. Pro-Gly and Pro-Leu induced positive imprinting (elevated FITC-dipeptide binding) and Pro-Val induced negative imprinting (decrease of FITC-peptide binding). There was positive imprinting induction in two cases for the retro FITC-peptide and in one case for the FITC-conjugate of the imprinter peptide itself. The highest positive imprinting (almost 60% increase) was induced by Pro-Gly for FITC-Gly-Pro. Considering earlier—chemotaxis—experiments, the results of the present—binding—studies run parallel with the physiological effects. The experiments call attention to the sharp differentiating ability of small peptides at a unicellular level, that could have some role in the selection of molecules for hormone formation, during evolution.

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