Electron microscopy was used to investigate primary cilia in quiescent 3T3 cells. As in the case of primary cilia of other cell types, their basal centriole was found to be a focal point of numerous cytoplasmic microtubules which terminate at the basal feet. There are also intermediate filaments which appear to converge at the basal centriole. Cross-striated fibers of microtubular diameter, reminiscent of striated rootlets of ordinary cilia, appear associated with the proximal end of the basal centriole. Usually less than nine cross-banded basal feet surround the basal centriole in a well-defined plane perpendicular to the centriolar axis. The ciliary shaft was found to be entirely enclosed in the cytoplasm of fully flattened cells. In rounded cells, it could be found extending to the outside of the cell. Periodic striations along the entire shaft were observed after preparing the cells in a special way. The tip of the shaft showed an electron-dense specialization. Several unusual forms of primary cilia were observed which were reminiscent of olfactory flagella or retinal rods. Using tubulin antibody for indirect immunofluorescence, a fluorescent rod is visible in the cells  which we demonstrate is identical with the primary cilium.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology