In Trypanosoma brucei, transition fibres (TFs) form a nine-bladed pattern-like structure connecting the base of the flagellum to the flagellar pocket membrane. Despite the characterization of two TF proteins, CEP164C and T. brucei (Tb)RP2, little is known about the organization of these fibres. Here, we report the identification and characterization of the first kinetoplastid-specific TF protein, named TFK1 (Tb927.6.1180). Bioinformatics and functional domain analysis identified three distinct domains in TFK1 – an N-terminal domain of an unpredicted function, a coiled-coil domain involved in TFK1–TFK1 interaction and a C-terminal intrinsically disordered region potentially involved in protein interaction. Cellular immunolocalization showed that TFK1 is a newly identified basal body maturation marker. Furthermore, using ultrastructure expansion and immuno-electron microscopies we localized CEP164C and TbRP2 at the TF, and TFK1 on the distal appendage matrix of the TF. Importantly, RNAi-mediated knockdown of TFK1 in bloodstream form cells induced misplacement of basal bodies, a defect in the furrow or fold generation, and eventually cell death. We hypothesize that TFK1 is a basal body positioning-specific actor and a key regulator of cytokinesis in the bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei.

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