The ultrastructure of primary cilia in quiescent 3T3 cells

Guenter Albrecht-Buehler*, Anne Bushnell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


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 [18] which we demonstrate is identical with the primary cilium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-437
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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