Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


  • Basal body biogenesis in Trypanosomes

    Basal bodies are analogous to centrioles in mammalian cells and are required to build a motile or immotile cilium or flagellum in a wide range of eukaryotic cells. They exist in pair that are physically connected to each other, but each basal body is different and was assembled in different cell cycles. The mature basal body extends a cilium or flagellum but the pro-basal body was assembled in the last cell cycle and cannot form a cilium or flagellum until the next cell cycle. The flagellum exits the cell via a flagellar pocket (Fig 1) and in Trypanosomes, this is the only site of endocytosis and exocytosis for the cell.

    Fig 1 (Journal of Cell Science, 2009)

    Fig 1 (Journal of Cell Science, 2009)

    The ultrastructure of the mature basal body is similar to many other eukaryotic organisms. Important questions include how are the basal body pair physically connected and how do these connections alter during basal body segregation within the cell cycle. 

    Fig 2 for research page-page-001

    Fig 2 (Cilia, 2016)

    3D microscopy of cells

    We use a technique called serial block face – scanning electron microscopy (SBF-SEM) (Hughes et al, 2013) to produce whole cell reconstructions of the internal and external ultrastructure of cells and tissues (Movie) and this allows us to study the changes in cells as they progress through the cell cycle, such as changes in the number and placement of internal cell structures and differences in cellular shape (Fig 3).

    Fig 3

    Journal of Cell Science, 2016