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Individual eukaryotic microbes, such as the kinetoplastid parasite Trypanosoma brucei, have a defined size, shape, and form yet transition through life cycle stages, each having a distinct morphology. In questioning the structural processes involved in these transitions, we have identified a large calpain-like protein that contains numerous GM6 repeats (ClpGM6) involved in determining T. brucei cell shape, size, and form. ClpGM6 is a cytoskeletal protein located within the flagellum along the flagellar attachment zone (FAZ). Depletion of ClpGM6 in trypomastigote forms produces cells with long free flagella and a shorter FAZ, accompanied by repositioning of the basal body, the kinetoplast, Golgi, and flagellar pocket, reflecting an epimastigote-like morphology. Hence, major changes in microbial cell form can be achieved by simple modulation of one or a few proteins via coordinated association and positioning of membrane and cytoskeletal components.

Original publication

DOI

10.1083/jcb.201312067

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Cell Biol

Publication Date

04/08/2014

Volume

206

Pages

377 - 384

Keywords

Calpain, Cell Division, Cell Proliferation, Cell Shape, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Flagella, Phenotype, Protein Transport, Protozoan Proteins, Trypanosoma brucei brucei