Axonemal dyneins must be precisely regulated and coordinated to produce ordered ciliary/flagellar motility, but how this is achieved is not understood. We analyzed two Chlamydomonas reinhardtii mutants, mia1 and mia2, which display slow swimming and low flagellar beat frequency. We found that the MIA1 and MIA2 genes encode conserved coiled-coil proteins, FAP100 and FAP73, respectively, which form the modifier of inner arms (MIA) complex in flagella. Cryo-electron tomography of mia mutant axonemes revealed that the MIA complex was located immediately distal to the intermediate/light chain complex of I1 dynein and structurally appeared to connect with the nexin-dynein regulatory complex. In axonemes from mutants that lack both the outer dynein arms and the MIA complex, I1 dynein failed to assemble, suggesting physical interactions between these three axonemal complexes and a role for the MIA complex in the stable assembly of I1 dynein. The MIA complex appears to regulate I1 dynein and possibly outer arm dyneins, which are both essential for normal motility.
The directional flow generated by motile cilia and flagella is critical for many processes, including human development and organ function. Normal beating requires the control and coordination of thousands of dynein motors, and the nexin-dynein regulatory complex (N-DRC) has been identified as an important regulatory node for orchestrating dynein activity. The nexin link appears to be critical for the transformation of dynein-driven, linear microtubule sliding to flagellar bending, yet the molecular composition and mechanism of the N-DRC remain largely unknown. Here, we used proteomics with special attention to protein phosphorylation to analyze the composition of the N-DRC and to determine which subunits may be important for signal transduction. Two-dimensional electrophoresis and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry of WT and mutant flagellar axonemes from Chlamydomonas identified 12 N-DRC-associated proteins, including all seven previously observed N-DRC components. Sequence and PCR analyses identified the mutation responsible for the phenotype of the sup-pf-4 strain, and biochemical comparison with a radial spoke mutant revealed two components that may link the N-DRC and the radial spokes. Phosphoproteomics revealed eight proteins with phosphorylated isoforms for which the isoform patterns changed with the genotype as well as two components that may play pivotal roles in N-DRC function through their phosphorylation status. These data were assembled into a model of the N-DRC that explains aspects of its regulatory function.
The axonemal core of motile cilia and flagella consists of nine doublet microtubules surrounding two central single microtubules. Attached to the doublets are thousands of dynein motors that produce sliding between neighboring doublets, which in turn causes flagellar bending. Although many structural features of the axoneme have been described, structures that are unique to specific doublets remain largely uncharacterized. These doublet-specific structures introduce asymmetry into the axoneme and are likely important for the spatial control of local microtubule sliding. Here, we used cryo-electron tomography and doublet-specific averaging to determine the 3D structures of individual doublets in the flagella of two evolutionarily distant organisms, the protist Chlamydomonas and the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus. We demonstrate that, in both organisms, one of the nine doublets exhibits unique structural features. Some of these features are highly conserved, such as the inter-doublet link i-SUB5-6, which connects this doublet to its neighbor with a periodicity of 96 nm. We also show that the previously described inter-doublet links attached to this doublet, the o-SUB5-6 in Strongylocentrotus and the proximal 1-2 bridge in Chlamydomonas, are likely not homologous features. The presence of inter-doublet links and reduction of dynein arms indicate that inter-doublet sliding of this unique doublet against its neighbor is limited, providing a rigid plane perpendicular to the flagellar bending plane. These doublet-specific features and the non-sliding nature of these connected doublets suggest a structural basis for the asymmetric distribution of dynein activity and inter-doublet sliding, resulting in quasi-planar waveforms typical of 9+2 cilia and flagella.
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