Genetic dissection of the Leishmania paraflagellar rod, a unique flagellar cytoskeleton structure.
Maga JA., Sherwin T., Francis S., Gull K., LeBowitz JH.
The paraflagellar rod (PFR) is a unique network of cytoskeletal filaments that lies alongside the axoneme in the flagella of most trypanosomatids. While little is known about how two major Leishmania mexicana PFR protein components, PFR1 and PFR2, assemble into this complex structure, previous analysis of PFR2 null mutants demonstrated that the PFR is essential for proper cell motility. The structural roles of PFR1 and PFR2 are now examined through comparison of PFR2 null mutants with new PFR1 null mutant and PFR1/PFR2 double null mutant parasites. Both PFR1 and PFR2 were essential for PFR formation and cell motility. When elimination of one PFR gene prevented assembly of a native PFR structure, the other PFR protein accumulated at the distal flagellar tip. Comparison of PFR substructures remaining in each mutant revealed that: (1) fibers that attach the PFR to the axoneme did not contain PFR1 or PFR2, and assemble in the absence of a PFR. (2) PFR1 was synthesized and transported to the flagella in the absence of PFR2, where it formed a stable association with the axoneme attachment fibers. (3) PFR2 was synthesized and transported to the flagella in the absence of PFR1, though it was not found associated with the axoneme attachment fibers. (4) PFR1 and PFR2 were located throughout the subdomains of the PFR. These data suggest that while PFR filaments contain both PFR1 and PFR2, the PFR is attached to the axoneme by interaction of PFR1 with the axoneme attachment fibers.