A dynamic coordination of flagellum and cytoplasmic cytoskeleton assembly specifies cell morphogenesis in trypanosomes.
Sunter JD., Varga V., Dean S., Gull K.
Plasma membrane-to-plasma membrane connections are common features of eukaryotic cells, with cytoskeletal frameworks below the respective membranes underpinning these connections. A defining feature of Trypanosoma brucei is the lateral attachment of its single flagellum to the cell body, which is mediated by a cytoskeletal structure called the flagellum attachment zone (FAZ). The FAZ is a key morphogenetic structure. Disruption of FAZ assembly can lead to flagellum detachment and dramatic changes in cell shape. To understand this complex structure, the identity of more of its constituent proteins is required. Here, we have used both proteomics and bioinformatics to identify eight new FAZ proteins. Using inducible expression of FAZ proteins tagged with eYFP we demonstrate that the site of FAZ assembly is close to the flagellar pocket at the proximal end of the FAZ. This contrasts with the flagellum, which is assembled at its distal end; hence, these two interconnected cytoskeletal structures have distinct spatially separated assembly sites. This challenging result has many implications for understanding the process of cell morphogenesis and interpreting mutant phenotypes.