Targeting of cytoskeletal proteins to the flagellum of Trypanosoma brucei.
Ersfeld K., Gull K.
The eukaryotic flagellum represents one of the most complex macromolecular structures found in any organism and contains more than 250 proteins. Due to the relative ease of genetic manipulation the flagellum of Trypanosoma brucei has emerged as an accessible model system to study the morphogenesis and dynamics of this organelle. We have recently started to characterise the mechanisms by which components of the cytoskeletal fraction of the flagellum, such as the axoneme, the paraflagellar rod and the flagellar attachment zone, are targeted by proteins synthesised in the cytoplasm and assembled. Here, we present the identification of a novel actin-related protein as a component of the axoneme. We show that this protein shares the tripeptid motif histidine-leucine-alanine (HLA) with one of the major proteins of the paraflagellar rod, PFRA. Building on previous work from this lab which showed that a deletion comprising this motif abolished targeting of PFRA to the flagellum we demonstrate in this study that the deletion of the tripeptid motif is sufficient to achieve mistargeting both of the PFRA and the actin-related protein. We propose that this motif represents an essential part of a flagellar targeting machinery in trypanosomes and possibly in other flagellated organisms.