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Biol Cell. 2011 Jun;103(6):249-70. doi: 10.1042/BC20100139.

Ultrastructure of cilia and flagella - back to the future!

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ATIGE Centriole and Associated Pathologies, INSERM/UEVE U829, 91000 Evry, France.


Eukaryotic cilia and flagella perform motility and sensory functions which are essential for cell survival in protozoans, and to organism development and homoeostasis in metazoans. Their ultrastructure has been studied from the early beginnings of electron microscopy, and these studies continue to contribute to much of our understanding about ciliary biology. In the light of the progress made in the visualization of cellular structures over the last decade, we revisit the ultrastructure of cilia and flagella. We briefly describe the typical features of a 9+2 axoneme before focusing extensively on the transition zone, the ciliary necklace, the singlet zone, the ciliary cap and the ciliary crown. We discuss how the singlet zone is linked to sensory and/or motile function, the contribution of the ciliary crown to ovocyte and mucosal propulsion, and the relationship between the ciliary cap and microtubule growth and shortening, and its relation to ciliary beat. We further examine the involvement of the transition zone/the ciliary necklace in axonemal stabilization, autotomy and as a diffusion barrier.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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