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J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 15;275(50):39369-78.

T lymphocyte-triggering factor of african trypanosomes is associated with the flagellar fraction of the cytoskeleton and represents a new family of proteins that are present in several divergent eukaryotes.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Interdepartmental Genetics Ph.D. Program, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


The trypanosome cytoskeleton consists almost entirely of microtubule-based structures. Although alpha- and beta-tubulin from Trypanosoma brucei have been well characterized, much less is known about other cytoskeleton-associated proteins in trypanosomes. Using biochemical fractionation, we demonstrate here that T lymphocyte-triggering factor (TLTF) from T. brucei is a component of the detergent-resistant and Ca(2+)-resistant fraction of the parasite cytoskeleton. This fraction contains the flagellar apparatus and a subset of cytoskeletal protein complexes that together function in cell motility, cytokinesis, and organelle inheritance. We also show that TLTF-related genes are present in several highly divergent eukaryotic organisms. Although the function of the corresponding proteins is not known, the mammalian TLTF-like gene (GAS11; growth arrest-specific gene 11) is up-regulated in growth-arrested cells and is a candidate tumor suppressor (Whitmore, S. A., Settasatian, C., Crawford, J., Lower, K. M., McCallum, B., Seshadri, R., Cornelisse, C. J., Moerland, E. W., Cleton-Jansen, A. M., Tipping, A. J., Mathew, C. G., Savnio, M., Savoia, A., Verlander, P., Auerbach, A. D., Van Berkel, C., Pronk, J. C., Doggett, N. A., and Callen, D. F. (1998) Genomics 52, 325-331), suggestive of a role in coordinating cytoskeleton activities. Consistent with this possibility, we show that the human GAS11 protein contains a 144-amino acid domain that co-localizes with microtubules when fused to the green fluorescent protein and expressed in mammalian cells. These findings suggest that TLTF represents a newly defined protein family, whose members contribute to cytoskeleton function in species as diverse as protozoa and mammals.

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