The ciliary necklace a ciliary membrane specialization

Norton B. Gilula, Peter Satir

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356 Scopus citations


Cilia, primarily of the lamellibranch gill (Elliptio and Mytilus), have been examined in freeze-etch replicas. Without etching, cross fractures rarely reveal the 9+2 pattern, although suggestions of ninefold symmetry are present. In etched preparations, longitudinal fractures through the matrix show a triplet spoke alignment corresponding to the spoke periodicity seen in thin sections. Dynein rows can be visualized along the peripheral microtubules in some preparations. Fracture faces of the ciliary membrane are smooth with few membrane particles, except in the regions adjacent to the basal plate. In the transition region below the plate, a unique particle arrangement, the ciliary necklace, is found. In the Elliptio gill, on fracture face A the necklace is comprised of three well-defined rows or strands of membrane particles that encircle the ciliary shaft. The rows are scalloped and each scallop corresponds to a peripheral doublet microtubule. In thin sections at the level of these particles, a series of champagne-glass structures link the microtubular doublets to the ciliary membrane. The ciliary necklace and this ‘membrane-microtubule’ complex may be involved in energy transduction or the timing of ciliary beat. Comparative studies show that these features are present in all somatic cilia examined including those of the amebofiagellate Tetramitus, sea urchin embryos, rat trachea, and nonmotile cilia of cultured chick embryo fibroblasts. The number of necklace strands differs with each species. The necklace has not been found in rat or sea urchin sperm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-509
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 1972
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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