Previously devised methods for the isolation of basal bodies from ciliate protozoans were found to be inadequate for chemical analysis. We have modified and expanded these procedures and developed a method which gives preparations containing mainly basal bodies and kinetodesmal fibers. This procedure involved fixation of cells in 30% ETOH followed by digitonin or Triton X-100 solubilization and homogenization with a Brinkmann Polytron. This is followed by sucrose gradient centrifugation. Negative staining and thin sectioning revealed these preparations to be substantially more pure than those of previous workers. It was also found that neutralized phosphotungstate (PTA) solubilized many of the components present in fixed Tetrahymena. Neutralized 1.0% PTA solubilized axonemes, cortical, axonemal, and basal body microtubules as well as kinetodesmal fibers. These results have been confirmed by both electron microscope observations and gel electrophoresis of 100,000 g supernatants of the PTA extracts. A solution of 0.1% PTA did not affect the fibers but did solubilize basal bodies. Running 1.0% PTA extracts from our basal body fractions on sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) polyacrylamide gels allowed us to tentatively identify the peptides of basal bodies and kinetodesmal fibers. The latter structures appear to consist of a single 21,000 mol wt peptide. These results also suggest that great caution should be taken in interpreting PTA images, especially of microtubules and axonemes.

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