Cilia and flagella contain nine outer doublet microtubules and a pair of central microtubules. The central pair of microtubules (CP) is important for cilia/flagella beating, as clearly shown by primary ciliary dyskinesia resulting from the loss of the CP. The CP is thought to regulate axonemal dyneins through interaction with radial spokes (RSs). However, the nature of the CP-RS interaction is poorly understood. Here we examine the appearance of CPs in the axonemes of a Chlamydomonas mutant, bld12, which produces axonemes with 8 to 11 outer-doublets. Most of its 8-doublet axonemes lack CPs. However, in the double mutant of bld12 and pf14, a mutant lacking the RS, most 8-doublet axonemes contain the CP. Thus formation of the CP apparently depends on the internal space limited by the outer doublets and RSs. In 10- or 11-doublet axonemes, only 3-5 RSs are attached to the CP and the doublet arrangement is distorted most likely because the RSs attached to the CP pull the outer doublets toward the axonemal center. The CP orientation in the axonemes varies in double mutants formed between bld12 and mutants lacking particular CP projections. The mutant bld12 thus provides the first direct and visual information about the CP-RS interaction, as well as about the mechanism of CP formation.
Volvocine green algae represent the "evolutionary time machine" model lineage for studying multicellularity, because they encompass the whole range of evolutionary transition of multicellularity from unicellular Chlamydomonas to >500-celled Volvox. Multicellular volvocalean species including Gonium pectorale and Volvox carteri generally have several common morphological features to survive as integrated multicellular organisms such as "rotational asymmetry of cells" so that the cells become components of the individual and "cytoplasmic bridges between protoplasts in developing embryos" to maintain the species-specific form of the multicellular individual before secretion of new extracellular matrix (ECM). However, these morphological features have not been studied in the four-celled colonial volvocine species Tetrabaena socialis that is positioned in the most basal lineage within the colonial or multicellular volvocine greens. Here we established synchronous cultures of T. socialis and carried out immunofluorescence microscopic and ultrastructural observations to elucidate these two morphological attributes. Based on immunofluorescence microscopy, four cells of the mature T. socialis colony were identical in morphology but had rotational asymmetry in arrangement of microtubular rootlets and separation of basal bodies like G. pectorale and V. carteri. Ultrastructural observations clearly confirmed the presence of cytoplasmic bridges between protoplasts in developing embryos of T. socialis even after the formation of new flagella in each daughter protoplast within the parental ECM. Therefore, these two morphological attributes might have evolved in the common four-celled ancestor of the colonial volvocine algae and contributed to the further increase in cell number and complexity of the multicellular individuals of this model lineage. T. socialis is one of the simplest integrated multicellular organisms in which four identical cells constitute the individual.
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