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Tubulin heterogeneity in the trypanosome Crithidia fasciculata.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


The interphase cell of Crithidia fasciculata has three discrete tubulin populations: the subpellicular microtubules, the axonemal microtubules, and the nonpolymerized cytoplasmic pool protein. These three tubulin populations were independently and selectively purified, yielding, in each case, microtubule protein capable of self-assembly. All three preparations polymerized to form ribbons and sheets rather than the more usual microtubular structures. Analyses of the tubulin by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, isoelectric focusing, and peptide mapping indicated that the beta-tubulin complex remained constant regardless of source but that some heterogeneity was present in the alpha subunit. Cytoplasmic pool alpha tubulins (alpha 1/alpha 2) were the only alpha isotypes in the cytoplasm and also formed most of the alpha tubulin species in the pellicular fraction. Flagellar alpha tubulin (alpha 3) was the sole alpha isotype in the flagella; it appeared in small amounts in the pellicular fraction but was completely absent from the cytoplasm. In vitro translation products from polyadenylated RNA from C. fasciculata were also examined by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and possessed a protein corresponding to alpha 1/alpha 2 tubulin but lacked any alpha 3 tubulin. The alpha 3 polypeptide arose from a post-translational modification of a precursor polypeptide not identifiable by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis as alpha 3. Peptide mapping data indicated that cytoplasmic alpha tubulin is the most likely precursor. These results demonstrate alpha-tubulin heterogeneity in this organism and also how close the relationship between flagellar and cytoskeletal tubulins can be among lower eucaryotes.

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