Cilia and Flagella (Campbell Biology)
In eukaryotes, a specialized arrangement of microtubules is responsible for the beating of flagella (singular, flagellum) and cilia (singular, cilium), microtubule-containing extensions that project from some cells. Many unicellular eukaryotes are propelled through water by cilia or flagella that act as locomotor appendages, and the sperm of animals, algae, and some plants have flagella. When cilia or flagella extend from cells that are held in place as part of a tissue layer, they can move fluid over the surface of the tissue. For example, the ciliated lining of the trachea (windpipe) sweeps mucus containing trapped debris out of the lungs. In a woman’s reproductive tract, the cilia lining the oviducts help move an egg toward the uterus.
Motile cilia usually occur in large numbers on the cell surface. Flagella are usually limited to just one or a few per cell, and they are longer than cilia. Flagella and cilia differ in their beating patterns. A flagellum has an undulating motion like the tail of a fish. In contrast, cilia have alternating power and recovery strokes, much like the oars of a racing crew boat.
A cilium may also act as a signal-receiving “antenna” for the cell. Cilia that have this function are generally non-motile, and there is only one per cell. (In fact, in vertebrate animals, it appears that almost all cells have such a cilium, which is called a primary cilium.) Membrane proteins on this kind of cilium transmit molecular signals from the cell’s environment to its interior, triggering signaling pathways that may lead to changes in the cell’s activities. Cilium-based signaling appears to be crucial to brain function and to embryonic development.
Though different in length, number per cell, and beating pattern, motile cilia and flagella share a common structure. Each motile cilium or flagellum has a group of microtubules sheathed in an extension of the plasma membrane. Nine doublets of microtubules are arranged in a ring with two single microtubules in its center. This arrangement, referred to as the “9 + 2” pattern, is found in nearly all eukaryotic flagella and motile cilia. (Nonmotile primary cilia have a “9 + 0” pattern, lacking the central pair of microtubules.) The microtubule assembly of a cilium or flagellum is anchored in the cell by a basal body, which is structurally very similar to a centriole, with microtubule triplets in a “9 + 0” pattern. In fact, in many animals (including humans), the basal body of the fertilizing sperm’s flagellum enters the egg and becomes a centriole.
How does the microtubule assembly produce the bending movements of flagella and motile cilia? Bending involves large motor proteins called dyneins that are attached along each outer microtubule doublet. A typical dynein protein has two “feet” that “walk” along the microtubule of the adjacent doublet, using ATP for energy. One foot maintains contact, along the microtubule. The outer doublets and two central microtubules are held together by flexible cross-linking proteins, and the walking movement is coordinated so that it happens on one side of the circle at a time. If the doublets were not held in place, the walking action would make them slide past each other. Instead, the movements of the dynein feet cause the microtubules—and the organelle as a whole—to bend.
Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology. Pearson Education. Kindle Edition. https://www.pearson.com/us/higher-education/series/Campbell-Biology-Series/2244849.html
Date Published: November 3, 2016 Publisher: Public Library of Science Author(s): Andrew Resnick, Benedetta Bussolati. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165907 Abstract: Although solitary or sensory cilia are present in most cells of the body and their existence has been known since the sixties, very little is known about their functions. One suspected function is fluid flow sensing- physical bending … Continue reading
Date Published: December 16, 2009 Publisher: Public Library of Science Author(s): Philip L. Leopold, Michael J. O’Mahony, X. Julie Lian, Ann E. Tilley, Ben-Gary Harvey, Ronald G. Crystal, Carol Feghali-Bostwick. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008157 Abstract: Whereas cilia damage and reduced cilia beat frequency have been implicated as causative of reduced mucociliary clearance in smokers, theoretically mucociliary clearance could also … Continue reading
Date Published: April 14, 2017 Publisher: Public Library of Science Author(s): Piali Sengupta Abstract: Nearly all cell types in mammals contain cilia, small rod-like or more elaborate structures that extend from the cell surface. Cilia house signaling proteins that allow the cell to sample their environment and respond appropriately. Mutations in ciliary genes alter the … Continue reading
Date Published: October 3, 2012 Publisher: Public Library of Science Author(s): Xinghong Yang, Theresa Thornburg, Zhiyong Suo, SangMu Jun, Amanda Robison, Jinquan Li, Timothy Lim, Ling Cao, Teri Hoyt, Recep Avci, David W. Pascual, Gunnar F. Kaufmann. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0046828 Abstract: Flagella are cell surface appendages involved in a number of bacterial behaviors, such as motility, biofilm formation, … Continue reading
Date Published: January 15, 2015 Publisher: Public Library of Science Author(s): Yannick Rossez, Eliza B. Wolfson, Ashleigh Holmes, David L. Gally, Nicola J. Holden, James B. Bliska. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004483 Abstract: The flagellum organelle is an intricate multiprotein assembly best known for its rotational propulsion of bacteria. However, recent studies have expanded our knowledge of other functions … Continue reading
Research Article: A fixable probe for visualizing flagella and plasma membranes of the African trypanosome
Date Published: May 16, 2018 Publisher: Public Library of Science Author(s): Justin Wiedeman, Kojo Mensa-Wilmot, Marek Cebecauer. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0197541 Abstract: The protozoan Trypanosoma brucei sp. cause diseases in humans and animals. Studies of T. brucei cell biology have revealed unique features, such as major endocytic events being limited to a single region, and mitochondrial genome segregation … Continue reading