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The defined shape and single-copy organelles of Trypanosoma brucei mean that it provides an excellent model in which to study how duplication and segregation of organelles is interfaced with morphogenesis of overall cell shape and form. The centriole or basal body of eukaryotic cells is often seen to be at the centre of such processes. We have used a combination of electron microscopy and electron tomography techniques to provide a detailed three-dimensional view of duplication of the basal body in trypanosomes. We show that the basal body duplication and maturation cycle exerts an influence on the intimately associated flagellar pocket membrane system that is the portal for secretion and uptake from this cell. At the start of the cell cycle, a probasal body is positioned anterior to the basal body of the existing flagellum. At the G1-S transition, the probasal body matures, elongates and invades the pre-existing flagellar pocket to form the new flagellar axoneme. The new basal body undergoes a spectacular anti-clockwise rotation around the old flagellum, while its short new axoneme is associated with the pre-existing flagellar pocket. This rotation and subsequent posterior movements results in division of the flagellar pocket and ultimately sets parameters for subsequent daughter cell morphogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cell Sci

Publication Date





2884 - 2891


Cell Cycle, Cell Division, Cell Shape, Cytoskeleton, Electron Microscope Tomography, Flagella, Organelles, Trypanosoma brucei brucei