Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29248600
J. Struct. Biol. 2018 202 (1):51-60
The protist Trypanosoma brucei is an emerging model for the study of cilia and flagella. Here, we used scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) tomography to describe the structure of the trypanosome transition zone (TZ). At the base of the TZ, nine transition fibres irradiate from the B microtubule of each doublet towards the membrane. The TZ adopts a 9 + 0 structure throughout its length of ∼300 nm and its lumen contains an electron-dense structure. The proximal portion of the TZ has an invariant length of 150 nm and is characterised by a collarette surrounding the membrane and the presence of electron-dense material between the membrane and the doublets. The distal portion exhibits more length variation (from 55 to 235 nm) and contains typical Y-links. STEM analysis revealed a more complex organisation of the Y-links compared to what was reported by conventional transmission electron microscopy. Observation of the very early phase of flagellum assembly demonstrated that the proximal portion and the collarette are assembled early during construction. The presence of the flagella connector that maintains the tip of the new flagellum to the side of the old was confirmed and additional filamentous structures making contact with the membrane of the flagellar pocket were also detected. The structure and potential functions of the TZ in trypanosomes are discussed, as well as its mode of assembly.