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Trypanosoma brucei has a precisely ordered microtubule cytoskeleton whose morphogenesis is central to cell cycle events such as organelle positioning, segregation, mitosis, and cytokinesis. We have defined microtubule polarity and show the + ends of the cortical microtubules to be at the posterior end of the cell. Measurements of organelle positions through the cell cycle reveal a high degree of coordinate movement and a relationship with overall cell extension. Quantitative analysis of the segregation of the replicated mitochondrial genome (the kinetoplast) by the flagellar basal bodies identifies a new G2 cell cycle event marker. The subsequent mitosis then positions one "daughter" nucleus into the gap between the segregated basal bodies/kinetoplasts. The anterior daughter nucleus maintains its position relative to the anterior of the cell, suggesting an effective yet cryptic nuclear positioning mechanism. Inhibition of microtubule dynamics by rhizoxin results in a phenomenon whereby cells, which have segregated their kinetoplasts yet are compromised in mitosis, cleave into a nucleated portion and a flagellated, anucleate, cytoplast. We term these cytoplasts "zoids" and show that they contain the posterior (new) flagellum and associated basal-body/kinetoplast complex. Examination of zoids suggests a role for the flagellum attachment zone (FAZ) in defining the position for the axis of cleavage in trypanosomes. Progression through cytokinesis, (zoid formation) while mitosis is compromised, suggests that the dependency relationships leading to the classical cell cycle check points may be altered in trypanosomes, to take account of the need to segregate two unit genomes (nuclear and mitochondrial) in this cell.


Journal article


J Cell Biol

Publication Date





1163 - 1172


Animals, Cell Cycle, Cell Division, Microtubules, Trypanosoma brucei brucei