The flagella connector of Trypanosoma brucei: an unusual mobile transmembrane junction.
Briggs LJ., McKean PG., Baines A., Moreira-Leite F., Davidge J., Vaughan S., Gull K.
Throughout its elongation, the new flagellum of the procyclic form of the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei is tethered at its tip to the lateral aspect of the old flagellum. This phenomenon provides a cytotactic mechanism for influencing inheritance of cellular pattern. Here, we show that this tethering is produced via a discrete, mobile transmembrane junction - the flagella connector. Light and electron microscopy reveal that the flagella connector links the extending microtubules at the tip of the new flagellum to the lateral aspect of three of the doublet microtubules in the old flagellar axoneme. Two sets of filaments connect the microtubules to three plates on the inner faces of the old and new flagellar membranes. Three differentiated areas of old and new flagellar membranes are then juxtaposed and connected by a central interstitial core of electron-dense material. The flagella connector is formed early in flagellum extension and is removed at the end of cytokinesis, but the exact timing of the latter event is slightly variable. The flagella connector represents a novel form of cellular junction that is both dynamic and mobile.