• Tetrahymena;
  • Insulin;
  • Serotonin;
  • Endorphin;
  • Receptors;
  • Phylogeny


FITC-insulin binding to previously hormone-treated Tetrahymena was studied by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Hormones produced by Tetrahymena were chosen for study and the hormone concentrations were administered between 10−6 and 10−21 M for 30 min. Endorphin, serotonin and insulin significantly reduced the hormone binding however histamine did not influence it at all. Endorphin, serotonin and insulin were significantly effective down to 10−18 M and the effect of insulin and endorphin suggest a similar mechanism. The results call attention to the efficacy of very low hormone concentrations, which can influence the hormone content (earlier experiments) and receptor binding capacity (present study) of a unicellular organism. This seems to be very important, as in wild (natural) conditions the dilution of signaling materials secreted by a water-living protozoan is very high. In addition, the results point to the selectivity of response, as not all of the hormones that deeply influence other physiological indices (e.g. histamine) have an effect on insulin content or insulin receptors.