Centrioles are freed from cilia by severing prior to mitosis

Jeremy D.K. Parker, Laura K. Hilton, Dennis R. Diener, M. Qasim Rasi, Moe R. Mahjoub, Joel L. Rosenbaum, Lynne M. Quarmby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Cilia are necessary for normal tissue development and homeostasis and are generally present during interphase, but not in mitosis. The precise mechanism of premitotic ciliary loss has been controversial, with data supporting either sequential disassembly through the transition zone or, alternatively, a severing event at the base of the cilia. Here we show by live cell imaging and immunofluoresence microscopy that resorbing flagella of Chlamydomonas leave remnants associated with the mother cell wall. We postulated that the remnants are the product of severing of doublet microtubules between the basal bodies and the flagellar transition zone, thereby freeing the centrioles to participate in spindle organization. We show via TEM that flagellar remnants are indeed flagellar transition zones encased in vesicles derived from the flagellar membrane. This transition zone vesicle can be lodged within the cell wall or it can be expelled into the environment. This process is observable in Chlamydomonas, first because the released flagellar remnants can remain associated with the cell by virtue of attachments to the cell wall, and second because the Chlamydomonas transition zone is particularly rich with electron-dense structure. However, release of basal bodies for spindle-associated function is likely to be conserved among the eukaryotes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-430
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Basal bodies
  • Electron microscopy
  • Flagellar transition zone
  • Katanin
  • Live cell imaging


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