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Flagellar beating is caused by microtubule sliding, driven by the activity of dynein, between adjacent two of the nine doublet microtubules. An essential process in the regulation of dynein is to alternate its activity (switching) between the two sides of the central pair microtubules. The switching of dynein activity can be detected, in an in vitro system using elastase-treated axonemes of sea urchin sperm flagella, as a reversal of the relative direction of ATP-induced sliding between the two bundles of doublets at high Ca(2+) (10(-4) M) at pH 7.8-8.0. The reversal is triggered by externally applied bending of the doublet bundle. However, the mechanism of this bending-induced reversal (or backward sliding) remains unclear. To understand how the switching of dynein activity in flagella can be induced by bending, we studied the roles of ADP, which is an important factor for the dynein motile activity, and of Ca(2+) in the bending-induced reversal of microtubule sliding between two bundles of doublets at pH 7.5 and 7.2. We found that the reversal of sliding direction was induced regardless of the concentrations of Ca(2+) at low pH, but occurred more frequently at low Ca(2+) (<10(-9) M) than at high Ca(2+). At pH 7.5, an application of ADP increased the frequency of occurrence of backward sliding at high as well as low concentrations of Ca(2+). The results indicate that ADP-dependent activation of dynein, probably resulting from ADP-binding to dynein, is involved in the regulation of the bending-induced switching of dynein activity in flagella.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Motil Cytoskeleton

Publication Date





292 - 301


Adenosine Diphosphate, Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Anthocidaris, Axoneme, Calcium, Dyneins, Enzyme Activation, Male, Pancreatic Elastase, Sperm Tail