We have examined thin sections and replicas of freeze-fractured cilia of Tetrahymena pyriformis. The ciliary necklace located at the base of all freeze-fractured oral and somatic cilia has been studied in thin sections. Since electron-dense linkers have been found to connect both microtubule doublets and triplets to the ciliary membrane at the level of the necklace, the linkers and the associated necklace seem to be related to the transition region between the doublets and triplets of a cilium. Plaque structures, consisting of small rectangular patches of particles located distal to the ciliary necklace, are found in strain GL, but are absent in other strains examined in this study. In freeze-cleaved material, additional structural differentiations are observed in the distal region of the ciliary membranes of somatic and oral cilia. Somatic cilia contain many randomly distributed particles within their membrane. Oral cilia can be divided into three categories on the basis of the morphology of their freeze-fractured membranes: (a) undifferentiated cilia with very few randomly distributed particles: (b) cilia with particles arranged in parallel longitudinal rows spaced at intervals of 810–1080 Å that are located on one side of the cilium; and (c) cilia with patches of particles arranged in short rows oriented obliquely to the main axis of the cilium. The latter particles, found on one side of the cilium, seem to serve as attachment sites for bristles 375–750 Å long and 100 Å wide which extend into the surrounding medium. The particles with bristles are located at the tips of cilia in the outermost membranelle and may be used to detect food particles and/or to modify currents in the oral region so that food particles are propelled more efficiently into the buccal cavity. Examination of thin-sectioned material indicates that the particles in oral cilia which form the longitudinal rows could be linked to microtubule doublets. Linkage between microtubule doublets and adjacent membrane areas on one side of the cilium could modify the form of ciliary beat by restricting the sliding of the microtubules. It is suggested that membrane-microtubule interactions may form the basis for the various forms of ciliary beat observed in different organisms.

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