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Transition fibres and distal appendages surround the distal end of mature basal bodies and are essential for ciliogenesis, but only a few proteins have been identified and functionally characterised. Here, through genome-wide analysis, we have identified 30 transition fibre proteins (TFPs) and mapped their arrangement in the flagellated eukaryote Trypanosoma brucei. We discovered TFPs are recruited to the mature basal body pre- and post-basal body duplication with differential expression of TFPs at the assembling new flagellum compared to the existing fixed-length old flagellum of 4 TFPs. RNAi depletion of 17 TFPs revealed 6 were necessary for ciliogenesis and a further 3 were necessary for normal flagellum length. We identified 9 TFPs that had a detectable orthologue in at least one basal body-forming eukaryotic organism outside of the kinetoplastid parasites. Our work has tripled the number of known transition fibre components, demonstrating that transition fibres are complex and dynamic in their composition throughout the cell cycle, which relates to their essential roles in ciliogenesis and length regulation.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of cell science

Publication Date



Department of Biological and Medical Sciences. Oxford Brookes University. Gipsy Lane, Oxford, OX3 0BP, UK.