SAS-4 in Trypanosoma brucei controls life cycle transitions by modulating the length of the flagellum attachment zone filament [Cell Biology]

October 26th, 2015 by Hu, H., Zhou, Q., Li, Z.

The evolutionarily conserved centriole/basal body protein SAS-4 regulates centriole duplication in metazoa and basal body duplication in flagellated and ciliated organisms. Here, we report that the SAS-4 homolog in the flagellated protozoan Trypanosoma brucei, TbSAS-4, plays an unusual role in controlling life cycle transitions by regulating the length of the flagellum attachment zone (FAZ) filament, a specialized cytoskeletal structure required for flagellum adhesion and cell morphogenesis. TbSAS-4 is concentrated at the distal tip of the FAZ filament, and depletion of TbSAS-4 in the trypomastigote form disrupts the elongation of the new FAZ filament, generating cells with a shorter FAZ associated with a longer unattached flagellum and re-positioned kinetoplast and basal body, reminiscent of epimastigote-like morphology. Further, we show that TbSAS-4 associates with several FAZ tip proteins, and depletion of TbSAS-4 disrupts the enrichment of several of these FAZ tip proteins at the new FAZ tip, suggesting a role of TbSAS-4 in maintaining the integrity of this FAZ tip protein complex. Together, these results uncover a novel function of TbSAS-4 in regulating the length of the FAZ filament to control basal body positioning and life cycle transitions in T. brucei.
  • Posted in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Publications
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A novel basal body protein and Polo-like kinase substrate is required for basal body segregation and flagellum adhesion in Trypanosoma brucei [Microbiology]

August 13th, 2015 by Hu, H., Zhou, Q., Li, Z.

The Polo-like kinase (PLK) in Trypanosoma brucei plays multiple roles in basal body segregation, flagellum attachment, and cytokinesis. However, the mechanistic role of TbPLK remains elusive, mainly because most of its substrates are not known. Here, we report a new substrate of TbPLK, SPBB1, and its essential roles in T. brucei. SPBB1 was identified through yeast two-hybrid screening with the kinase-dead TbPLK as the bait. It interacts with TbPLK in vitro and in vivo, and is phosphorylated by TbPLK in vitro. SPBB1 localizes to both the mature basal body and the probasal body throughout the cell cycle, and co-localizes with TbPLK at the basal body during early cell cycle stages. RNAi against SPBB1 in procyclic trypanosomes inhibited basal body segregation, disrupted the new flagellum attachment zone filament, detached the new flagellum, and caused defective cytokinesis. Moreover, RNAi of SPBB1 confines TbPLK at the basal body and the bilobe structure, resulting in constitutive phosphorylation of the bilobe resident TbCentrin2. Altogether, these results identified a basal body protein as a TbPLK substrate and its essential role in promoting basal body segregation and flagellum attachment zone filament assembly for flagellum adhesion and cytokinesis initiation.
  • Posted in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Publications
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