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Oscillatory movement of eukaryotic flagella is caused by dynein-driven microtubule sliding in the axoneme. The mechanical feedback from the bending itself is involved in the regulation of dynein activity, the main mechanism of which is thought to be switching of the activity of dynein between the two sides of the central pair microtubules. To test this, we developed an experimental system using elastase-treated axonemes of sperm flagella, which have a large Ca(2+)-induced principal bend (P-bend) at the base. On photoreleasing ATP from caged ATP, they slid apart into two bundles of doublets. When the distal overlap region of the slid bundles was bent in the direction opposite to the basal P-bend, backward sliding of the thinner bundle was induced along the flagellum including the bent region. The velocity of the backward sliding was significantly lower than that of the forward sliding, supporting the idea that the dynein activity alternated between the two sides of the central pair on bending. Our results show that the combination of the direction of bending and the conformational state of dynein-microtubule interaction induce the switching of the dynein activity in flagella, thus providing the basis for flagellar oscillation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cell Sci

Publication Date





2833 - 2843


Animals, Axoneme, Biomechanical Phenomena, Dyneins, Male, Microtubules, Models, Biological, Pancreatic Elastase, Sea Urchins, Sperm Tail, Time Factors