Knockdown of Inner Arm Protein IC138 in Trypanosoma brucei Causes Defective Motility and Flagellar Detachment.
ABSTRACT: Motility in the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei is conferred by a single flagellum, attached alongside the cell, which moves the cell forward using a beat that is generated from tip-to-base. We are interested in characterizing components that regulate flagellar beating, in this study we extend the characterization of TbIC138, the ortholog of a dynein intermediate chain that regulates axonemal inner arm dynein f/I1. TbIC138 was tagged In situ-and shown to fractionate with the inner arm components of the flagellum. RNAi knockdown of TbIC138 resulted in significantly reduced protein levels, mild growth defect and significant motility defects. These cells tended to cluster, exhibited slow and abnormal motility and some cells had partially or fully detached flagella. Slight but significant increases were observed in the incidence of mis-localized or missing kinetoplasts. To document development of the TbIC138 knockdown phenotype over time, we performed a detailed analysis of flagellar detachment and motility changes over 108 hours following induction of RNAi. Abnormal motility, such as slow twitching or irregular beating, was observed early, and became progressively more severe such that by 72 hours-post-induction, approximately 80% of the cells were immotile. Progressively more cells exhibited flagellar detachment over time, but this phenotype was not as prevalent as immotility, affecting less than 60% of the population. Detached flagella had abnormal beating, but abnormal beating was also observed in cells with no flagellar detachment, suggesting that TbIC138 has a direct, or primary, effect on the flagellar beat, whereas detachment is a secondary phenotype of TbIC138 knockdown. Our results are consistent with the role of TbIC138 as a regulator of motility, and has a phenotype amenable to more extensive structure-function analyses to further elucidate its role in the control of flagellar beat in T. brucei.
Project description:The Trypanosoma brucei flagellum controls motility and is crucial for cell polarity and division. Unique features of trypanosome motility suggest that flagellar beat regulation in this organism is unusual and worthy of study. The flagellar axoneme, required for motility, has a structure that is highly conserved among eukaryotes. Of the several dyneins in the axonemal inner arm complex, dynein f is thought to control flagellar waveform shape. A T. brucei gene predicted to encode the dynein f alpha heavy chain, TbDNAH10, was silenced using RNA interference in procyclic T. brucei cells. This resulted in immotile flagella, showing no movement except for occasional slight twitches at the tips. Cell growth slowed dramatically and cells were found in large clusters. Microscopic analysis of silenced cultures showed many cells with detached flagella, sometimes entangled between multiple cells. DAPI staining showed an increased frequency of mis-positioned kinetoplasts and multinucleate cells, suggesting that these cells experience disruption at an early cell cycle stage, probably secondary to the motility defect. TEM images showed apparently normal axonemes and no discernable defects in inner arm structure. This study demonstrates the use of RNAi as an effective method to study very large genes such as dynein heavy chains (HCs), and the immotility phenotype of these dynein knockdowns suggests that an intact inner arm is necessary for flagellar beating in T. brucei. Since analogous mutants in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii retain motility, this phenotype likely reflects differences in requirements for motility and/or dynein assembly between the two organisms and these comparative studies will help elucidate the mechanisms of flagellar beat regulation.
Project description:Flagellar attachment is a visibly striking morphological feature of African trypanosomes but little is known about the requirements for attachment at a molecular level. This study characterizes a previously undescribed membrane protein, FLA3, which plays an essential role in flagellar attachment in Trypanosoma brucei. FLA3 is heavily N-glycosylated, locates to the flagellar attachment zone and appears to be a bloodstream stage specific protein. Ablation of the FLA3 mRNA rapidly led to flagellar detachment and a concomitant failure of cytokinesis in the long slender bloodstream form but had no effect on the procyclic form. Flagellar detachment was obvious shortly after induction of the dsRNA and the newly synthesized flagellum was often completely detached after it emerged from the flagellar pocket. Within 12 h most cells possessed detached flagella alongside the existing attached flagellum. These results suggest that proteins involved in attachment are not shared between the new and old attachment zones. In other respects the detached flagella appear normal, they beat rapidly although directional motion was lost, and they possess an apparently normal axoneme and paraflagellar rod structure. The flagellar attachment zone appeared to be disrupted when FLA3 was depleted. Thus, while flagellar attachment is a constitutive feature of the life cycle of trypanosomes, attachment requires stage specific elements at the protein level.
Project description:The motility of cilia and flagella is driven by thousands of dynein motors that hydrolyze adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Despite decades of genetic, biochemical, structural, and biophysical studies, some aspects of ciliary motility remain elusive, such as the regulation of beating patterns and the energetic efficiency of these nanomachines. In this study, we introduce an experimental method to measure ATP consumption of actively beating axonemes on a single-cell level. We encapsulated individual sea urchin sperm with demembranated flagellum inside water-in-oil emulsion droplets and measured the axoneme's ATP consumption by monitoring fluorescence intensity of a fluorophore-coupled reporter system for ATP turnover in the droplet. Concomitant phase contrast imaging allowed us to extract a linear dependence between the ATP consumption rate and the flagellar beating frequency, with ?2.3 × 10(5) ATP molecules consumed per beat of a demembranated flagellum. Increasing the viscosity of the aqueous medium led to modified beating waveforms of the axonemes and to higher energy consumption per beat cycle. Our single-cell experimental platform provides both new insights, to our knowledge, into the beating mechanism of flagella and a powerful tool for future studies.
Project description:Analysis of flagellum and cilium beating in three dimensions (3D) is important for understanding cell motility, and using fluorescence microscopy to do so would be extremely powerful. Here, high-speed multifocal plane fluorescence microscopy, where the light path is split to visualise multiple focal planes simultaneously, was used to reconstruct Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania mexicana movement in 3D. These species are uniflagellate unicellular parasites for which motility is vital. It was possible to use either a fluorescent stain or a genetically-encoded fluorescent protein to visualise flagellum and cell movement at 200 Hz frame rates. This addressed two open questions regarding Trypanosoma and Leishmania flagellum beating, which contributes to their swimming behaviours: 1) how planar is the L. mexicana flagellum beat, and 2) what is the nature of flagellum beating during T. brucei 'tumbling'? We showed that L. mexicana has notable deviations from a planar flagellum beat, and that during tumbling the T. brucei flagellum bends the cell and beats only in the distal portion to achieve cell reorientation. This demonstrates high-speed multifocal plane fluorescence microscopy as a powerful tool for the analysis of beating flagella.
Project description:Volvox rousseletii is a multicellular spheroidal green alga containing ?5,000 cells, each equipped with two flagella (cilia). This organism shows striking photobehavior without any known intercellular communication. To help understand how the behavior of flagella is regulated, we developed a method to extract the whole organism with detergent and reactivate its flagellar motility. Upon addition of ATP, demembranated flagella (axonemes) in the spheroids actively beat and the spheroids swam as if they were alive. Under Ca2+-free conditions, the axonemes assumed planar and asymmetrical waveforms and beat toward the posterior pole, as do live spheroids in the absence of light stimulation. In the presence of 10-6 M Ca2+, however, most axonemes beat three-dimensionally toward the anterior pole, similar to flagella in photostimulated live spheroids. This Ca2+-dependent change in flagellar beating direction was more conspicuous near the anterior pole of the spheroid, but was not observed near the posterior pole. This anterior-posterior gradient of flagellar Ca2+ sensitivity may explain the mechanism of V. rousseletii photobehavior.
Project description:Motile cilia, also called flagella, are found across a broad range of species; some cilia propel prokaryotes and eukaryotic cells like sperm, while cilia on epithelial surfaces create complex fluid patterns e.g., in the brain or lung. For sperm, the picture has emerged that the flagellum is not only a motor but also a sensor that detects stimuli from the environment, computing the beat pattern according to the sensory input. Thereby, the flagellum navigates sperm through the complex environment in the female genital tract. However, we know very little about how environmental signals change the flagellar beat and, thereby, the swimming behavior of sperm. It has been proposed that distinct signaling domains in the flagellum control the flagellar beat. However, a detailed analysis has been mainly hampered by the fact that current comprehensive analysis approaches rely on complex microscopy and analysis systems. Thus, knowledge on sperm signaling regulating the flagellar beat is based on custom quantification approaches that are limited to only a few aspects of the beat pattern, do not resolve the kinetics of the entire flagellum, rely on manual, qualitative descriptions, and are only a little comparable among each other. Here, we present SpermQ, a ready-to-use and comprehensive analysis software to quantify sperm motility. SpermQ provides a detailed quantification of the flagellar beat based on common time-lapse images acquired by dark-field or epi-fluorescence microscopy, making SpermQ widely applicable. We envision SpermQ becoming a standard tool in flagellar and motile cilia research that allows to readily link studies on individual signaling components in sperm and distinct flagellar beat patterns.
Project description:The hemoflagellate Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of American trypanosomiasis. Despite the importance of motility in the parasite life cycle, little is known about T. cruzi motility, and there is no quantitative description of its flagellar beating. Using video microscopy and quantitative vectorial analysis of epimastigote trajectories, we find a forward parasite motility defined by tip-to-base symmetrical flagellar beats. This motion is occasionally interrupted by base-to-tip highly asymmetric beats, which represent the ciliary beat of trypanosomatid flagella. The switch between flagellar and ciliary beating facilitates the parasite's reorientation, which produces a large variability of movement and trajectories that results in different distance ranges traveled by the cells. An analysis of the distance, speed, and rotational angle indicates that epimastigote movement is not completely random, and the phenomenon is highly dependent on the parasite behavior and is characterized by directed and tumbling parasite motion as well as their combination, resulting in the alternation of rectilinear and intricate motility paths.
Project description:Motile cilia and flagella are essential, highly conserved organelles, and their motility is driven by the coordinated activities of multiple dynein isoforms. The prevailing "switch-point" hypothesis posits that dyneins are asymmetrically activated to drive flagellar bending. To test this model, we applied cryo-electron tomography to visualize activity states of individual dyneins relative to their locations along beating flagella of sea urchin sperm cells. As predicted, bending was generated by the asymmetric distribution of dynein activity on opposite sides of the flagellum. However, contrary to predictions, most dyneins were in their active state, and the smaller population of conformationally inactive dyneins switched flagellar sides relative to the bending direction. Thus, our data suggest a "switch-inhibition" mechanism in which force imbalance is generated by inhibiting, rather than activating, dyneins on alternating sides of the flagellum.
Project description:The flagellum of Trypanosoma brucei is a multifunctional organelle with critical roles in motility and other aspects of the trypanosome life cycle. Trypanin is a flagellar protein required for directional cell motility, but its molecular function is unknown. Recently, a trypanin homologue in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was reported to be part of a dynein regulatory complex (DRC) that transmits regulatory signals from central pair microtubules and radial spokes to axonemal dynein. DRC genes were identified as extragenic suppressors of central pair and/or radial spoke mutations. We used RNA interference to ablate expression of radial spoke (RSP3) and central pair (PF16) components individually or in combination with trypanin. Both rsp3 and pf16 single knockdown mutants are immotile, with severely defective flagellar beat. In the case of rsp3, this loss of motility is correlated with the loss of radial spokes, while in the case of pf16 the loss of motility correlates with an aberrant orientation of the central pair microtubules within the axoneme. Genetic interaction between trypanin and PF16 is demonstrated by the finding that loss of trypanin suppresses the pf16 beat defect, indicating that the DRC represents an evolutionarily conserved strategy for dynein regulation. Surprisingly, we discovered that four independent mutants with an impaired flagellar beat all fail in the final stage of cytokinesis, indicating that flagellar motility is necessary for normal cell division in T. brucei. These findings present the first evidence that flagellar beating is important for cell division and open the opportunity to exploit enzymatic activities that drive flagellar beat as drug targets for the treatment of African sleeping sickness.
Project description:Eukaryotic flagella undertake different beat types as necessary for different functions; for example, the Leishmania parasite flagellum undergoes a symmetric tip-to-base beat for forward swimming and an asymmetric base-to-tip beat to rotate the cell. In multi-ciliated tissues or organisms, the asymmetric beats are coordinated, leading to movement of the cell, organism or surrounding fluid. This coordination involves a polarisation of power stroke direction. Here, we asked whether the asymmetric beat of the single Leishmania flagellum also has a fixed polarisation. We developed high frame rate dual-colour fluorescence microscopy to visualise flagellar-associated structures in live swimming cells. This showed that the asymmetric Leishmania beat is polarised, with power strokes only occurring in one direction relative to the asymmetric flagellar machinery. Polarisation of bending was retained in deletion mutants whose flagella cannot beat but have a static bend. Furthermore, deletion mutants for proteins required for asymmetric extra-axonemal and rootlet-like flagellum-associated structures also retained normal polarisation. Leishmania beat polarisation therefore likely arises from either the nine-fold rotational symmetry of the axoneme structure or is due to differences between the outer doublet decorations.