The double-spiral microtubule pattern is established by a self-linkage procedure when axopodial axonemes reassemble after cold treatment in multinucleate Echinosphaerium nucleofilum and mononucleate Actinophrys sol. Nuclei are related spatially to axoneme morphogenesis in both organisms but in rather different ways. Microtubules grow out in all directions from discrete clumps of dense material situated close to nuclei in E. nucleofilum as axonemal assembly begins. Each clump acts as a microtubule-organizing centre (MTOC) in so far as it is associated spatially with the assembly of microtubules for a single axoneme. The dense material spreads along the sides of a developing axoneme for several micrometers, where it probably promotes further microtubule assembly as the double-spiral pattern is established. Pattern is generated as microtubules that are randomly oriented to begin with become more closely juxtaposed and aligned with each other. There are indications that juxtaposition is brought about by the contractile action of a filamentous meshwork that interconnects the microtubules. Final positioning and alignment appears to be accomplished by a ‘zippering’ together of adjacent portions of microtubules that proceeds in both directions along the lengths of developing axonemes as self-linkage is effected. Considerable numbers of more or less radially oriented microtubules remain and project from the surface membrane of the single central nucleus during cold treatment of A. sol. Additional tubules assemble and become associated similarly with the nuclear envelope immediately after cold treatment. Initially these microtubules are not arranged in a double-spiral pattern, which is subsequently generated by procedures similar to those outlined above for E. nucleofilum. It is suggested that the surface of the nuclear envelope may act as an MTOC.

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