The cortex of the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena contains a number of fibrous elements, including a network of filaments that pervades the feeding organelle of this organism. The cluster of polypeptides (79–89K; K = 10(3) Mr) in Tetrahymena pyriformis GL-C that constitute these filaments has been purified by in vitro assembly after solubilization in 1.0 M KI. Four distinct sets of these polypeptides, designated ‘tetrins’, have been shown to be distinguishable from each other by immunochemical and biochemical criteria. The smallest filaments reassembled in vitro were 3–4 nm in diameter and these fine filaments were seen to be bundled together into thicker strands of varying diameters, similar to those within the cell. The thicker filament bundles were clearly distinguishable from intermediate filaments, but fine filaments in these bundles were superficially similar to the 2–5 nm filaments described as microtubule-associated proteins in other organisms. The ultrastructure of the tetrin filaments localized within the feeding organelle reveals a substantial presence of these filaments apart from microtubules. In addition, circular dichroism measurements indicate a relatively low alpha-helical content for these filaments and suggest that the tetrins may be substantially different from other fine filament proteins such as the tektins and giardins.

This content is only available via PDF.