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The mitochondrial DNA of Trypanosoma brucei is organized in a complex structure called the kinetoplast. In this study, we define the complete kinetoplast duplication cycle in T. brucei based on three-dimensional reconstructions from serial-section electron micrographs. This structural model was enhanced by analyses of the replication process of DNA maxi- and minicircles. Novel insights were obtained about the earliest and latest stages of kinetoplast duplication. We show that kinetoplast S phase occurs concurrently with the repositioning of the new basal body from the anterior to the posterior side of the old flagellum. This emphasizes the role of basal body segregation in kinetoplast division and suggests a possible mechanism for driving the rotational movement of the kinetoplast during minicircle replication. Fluorescence in situ hybridization with minicircle- and maxicircle-specific probes showed that maxicircle DNA is stretched out between segregated minicircle networks, indicating that maxicircle segregation is a late event in the kinetoplast duplication cycle. This new view of the complexities of kinetoplast duplication emphasizes the dependencies between the dynamic remodelling of the cytoskeleton and the inheritance of the mitochondrial genome.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cell Biol

Publication Date





1012 - 1021


Cell Cycle, Cytoskeleton, DNA Replication, DNA, Kinetoplast, DNA, Protozoan, Electron Microscope Tomography, Flagella, Morphogenesis, Trypanosoma brucei brucei