Attached to the basal bodies of Naegleria gruberi flagellates is a striated rootlet or rhizoplast. The rootlet-basal body complex has been isolated by Triton X-100 lysis of deflagellated cells and differential centrifugation through a 25% glycerol medium. Rootlets isolated from mature flagellates are approximately 13 micrometers long but vary from 8 to 15 micrometers in length: they taper at both ends from a maximum width of approximately 0.25 micrometers in the vicinity of the basal bodies. They are highly stable during isolation but can be solubilized by urea, high salt, low pH, or detergent (Sarkosyl). Partial dissociation of rootlets with 1 M urea reveals that they are composed of filaments, approximately 5 nm diameter, associated in a linear fashion to yield the characteristic 21-nm cross-banded appearance. Differential solubilization of rootlets and their associated contaminants allowed identification of a major rootlet protein, comprising at least 50% of any purified rootlet preparation, with an apparent subunit molecular weight of 170,000. The localization of rootlets in situ by indirect immunofluorescence using a specific antibody directed against the purified rootlet protein demonstrated unequivocally that this 170,000-dalton protein is an organelle component.

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