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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31344. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031344. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

A MAP6-related protein is present in protozoa and is involved in flagellum motility.

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Microbiologie Fondamentale et Pathogénicité, Université de Bordeaux, UMR 5234, Bordeaux, France.


In vertebrates the microtubule-associated proteins MAP6 and MAP6d1 stabilize cold-resistant microtubules. Cilia and flagella have cold-stable microtubules but MAP6 proteins have not been identified in these organelles. Here, we describe TbSAXO as the first MAP6-related protein to be identified in a protozoan, Trypanosoma brucei. Using a heterologous expression system, we show that TbSAXO is a microtubule stabilizing protein. Furthermore we identify the domains of the protein responsible for microtubule binding and stabilizing and show that they share homologies with the microtubule-stabilizing Mn domains of the MAP6 proteins. We demonstrate, in the flagellated parasite, that TbSAXO is an axonemal protein that plays a role in flagellum motility. Lastly we provide evidence that TbSAXO belongs to a group of MAP6-related proteins (SAXO proteins) present only in ciliated or flagellated organisms ranging from protozoa to mammals. We discuss the potential roles of the SAXO proteins in cilia and flagella function.

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