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Structural analysis of flagellar axonemes from inner arm dynein knockdown strains of Trypanosoma brucei

1. Department of Biology, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA
2. Department of Biological Sciences, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, USA
*Address correspondence to: Amy L. Springer. Department of Biology, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA. E-mail:

BIOCELL 2012, 36(3), 133-142.


Trypanosoma brucei is a protozoan flagellate that causes African sleeping sickness. Flagellar function in this organism is critical for life cycle progression and pathogenesis, however the regulation of flagellar motility is not well understood. The flagellar axoneme produces a complex beat through the precisely coordinated firing of many proteins, including multiple dynein motors. These motors are found in the inner arm and outer arm complexes. We are studying one of the inner arm dynein motors in the T. brucei flagellum: dynein-f. RNAi knockdown of genes for two components of dynein-f: DNAH10, the α heavy chain, and IC138, an intermediate chain, cause severe motility defects including immotility. To determine if motility defects result from structural disruption of the axoneme, we used two different flagellar preparations to carefully examine axoneme structure in these strains using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Our analysis showed that inner arm dynein size, axoneme structural integrity and fixed central pair orientation are not significantly different in either knockdown culture when compared to control cultures. These results support the idea that immotility in knockdowns affecting DNAH10 or IC138 results from loss of dynein-f function rather than from obvious structural defects in the axoneme.


flagellar motility, transmission electron microscopy, central pair

Cite This Article

ZUKAS, R., CHANG, A. J., RICE, M., SPRINGER, A. L. (2012). Structural analysis of flagellar axonemes from inner arm dynein knockdown strains of Trypanosoma brucei. BIOCELL, 36(3), 133–142.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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