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A centriolar FGR1 oncogene partner-like protein required for paraflagellar rod assembly, but not axoneme assembly in African trypanosomes

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  • Jane Harmer
  • Katie Towers
  • Max Addison
  • Sue Vaughan
  • Michael L Ginger
  • Paul G McKean
Article number170218
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Open biology
Issue number7
Number of pages13
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date25/07/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Proteins of the FGR1 oncogene partner (or FOP) family are found at microtubule organizing centres (MTOCs) including, in flagellate eukaryotes, the centriole or flagellar basal body from which the axoneme extends. We report conservation of FOP family proteins, TbFOPL and TbOFD1, in the evolutionarily divergent sleeping sickness parasite Trypanosoma brucei, showing (in contrast with mammalian cells, where FOP is essential for flagellum assembly) depletion of a trypanosome FOP homologue, TbFOPL, affects neither axoneme nor flagellum elongation. Instead, TbFOPL depletion causes catastrophic failure in assembly of a lineage-specific, extra-axonemal structure, the paraflagellar rod (PFR). That depletion of centriolar TbFOPL causes failure in PFR assembly is surprising because PFR nucleation commences approximately 2 µm distal from the basal body. When over-expressed with a C-terminal myc-epitope, TbFOPL was also observed at mitotic spindle poles. Little is known about bi-polar spindle assembly during closed trypanosome mitosis, but indication of a possible additional MTOC function for TbFOPL parallels MTOC localization of FOP-like protein TONNEAU1 in acentriolar plants. More generally, our functional analysis of TbFOPL emphasizes significant differences in evolutionary cell biology trajectories of FOP-family proteins. We discuss how at the molecular level FOP homologues may contribute to flagellum assembly and function in diverse flagellates.