Mutational Analysis of T. brucei Components of Motile Flagella (TbCMF) Genes in the African Trypanosome
Flagella and cilia play significant roles in mobility and environmental sensing in microbes as well as organ and gamete function in more complex organisms. The African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, is a model organism for laboratory study of the components of the flagellum. Its single flagellum bears the conserved flagellar structure seen in many organisms. Little is known about the identities and interactions of the protein groups comprising the flagella despite familiarity of its shape. Understanding how molecular activity gives rise to coordinated movement (wave propagation) and environmental sensing is crucial to understanding and treating the diseases caused by African trypanosomes as well as diseases that stem from ciliary malfunctions in humans. In collaboration with the Kent Hill research team at UCLA I am seeking to characterize a protein in a family called the Trypanosoma brucei Components of Motile Flagella (TbCMF). This family has been defined by the Hill research team through bioinformatics comparison of homologues present in species with motile flagella (H. sapiens, M. musculus, D. melanogaster, C. reinhardtii, and C. elegans). RNAi will be used to characterize TbCMF 63. The predicted sequence of this gene contains a calcium binding domain. I am performing site specific mutagenesis on TbCMF 63 to perturb the function of the calcium binding protein in order to characterize its function in motility.