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Title: The centriole in evolution : from motility to mitosis
Author: Smith, Amy Elisabeth
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Centrioles and basal bodies with their characteristic 9+2 structure are found in all major eukaryotic lineages. The correlation between the occurrence of centrioles and the presence of cilia/flagella, but not centrosome-like structures, suggests that the ciliogenesis function of centrioles is ancestral. Here, it is demonstrated that the centriole domain of centrosomes emerged within the Metazoa from an ancestral state of possessing a centriole with basal body function but no functional association with a centrosome. Centrosome structures involving a centriole are metazoan innovations. When an axoneme is still present but no longer fully functional, such as the sensory cilia of Caenorhabditis elegans or, as depicted here, the flagellum of the intracellular amastigote stage of the Leishmania mexicana parasite, the basal body structure is less constrained and can depart from the canonical structure. A general view has emerged that classifies axonemes into canonical motile 9+2 and noncanonical, sensory 9+0 structures. This study reveals this view to be overly simplistic, and additional axonemal architectures associated with potential sensory structures should be incorporated into prevailing models. Here, a striking similarity between the axoneme structure of Leishmania amastigotes and vertebrate primary cilia is revealed. This striking conservation of ciliary structure, despite the evolutionary distance between Leishmania and mammalian cells, suggests a sensory function for the amastigote flagellum. Adding weight to a sensory hypothesis, close examination of Leishmania positioning inside the parasitophorous vacuole revealed frequent contact between the flagellum tip and the vacuole membrane. A sensory function could also explain the retention of a flagellum in Trypanosoma cruzi amastigotes, an intracellular stage that, as shown in this study, emerged independently to the Leishmania amastigote. Basal body appendages, such as pro-basal bodies and microtubule rootlets, also vary widely in their structure. Choanoflagellates, a sister group to the Metazoa, posses an extensive microtubule rootlet system that provides support for their characteristic collar tentacles. This atypical structure is reflected in the underlying molecular components of the choanoflagellate basal body. The importance of choanoflagellates as the closest known relative of metazoans was first revealed by their similarity to choanocytes, the feeding cells of sponges. Although phylogenetic analyses leave little doubt that choanoflagellates are a sister group of animals, comparisons of molecular and structural components of appendages associated with the collar tentacles highlight significant differences and questions the extent to which the collar structures of choanoflagellates and choanocytes can be assumed to be homologous. Finally, the confinement of a centriole-based centrosome to the Metazoa provides little support for the flagellar synthesis constraint as an explanation for the origin of multicellularity. There is, indeed, an apparent constraint; no flagellated or ciliated metazoan cell ever divides. This constraint, however, did not arise until after the incorporation of centrioles into the centrosome in the metazoan lineage and the co-option of centrioles as a structural and functional component of the centrosome. The flagellar synthesis constraint is therefore not an explanation for the origin of multicellularity but a consequence of it.
Supervisor: Holland, Peter W. H. Sponsor: Merton College, University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Zoological sciences ; Evolution (zoology) ; Centriole ; basal body ; flagella ; centrosome ; evolution ; Leishmania ; amastigote ; axoneme