Assessment of inner dynein arm structure and possible function in ciliary and flagellar axonemes

Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1999;43(2):167-77. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0169(1999)43:2<167::AID-CM8>3.0.CO;2-Q.


The construction and assessment of a three-dimensional computer-generated model of inner dynein arms on a 96-nm repeat unit of an axonemal doublet is described. The model is based on published electron micrographs of axonemes from Tetrahymena cilia and eel sperm, which were prepared using several different techniques: negative stain, freeze etch, and thin section. The inner arm structure is represented as three inner dynein arm complexes containing four inner dynein arms (IDAs), three dyads, and one single-headed arm, each capable of bridging the interdoublet gap. The IDA structures in the model have been correlated with the domains containing dynein heavy-chain isoforms mapped by several authors using genetic analyses of Chlamydomonas mutants. The model is consistent with micrographic evidence from axonemes of cilia and flagella from other organisms that led previously to conflicting structural interpretations. In this reconciling interpretation, the different alignments of the IDAs relative to the corresponding outer dynein arms observed in micrographs of differently prepared samples, result from the IDAs being arrested at different stages of their cycles of activity in each preparation. By interpolating between these positions of arrest, cycles of activity are proposed for each of the IDAs during which the arms attach to the neighbouring doublet microtubule and drive it tipwards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlamydomonas
  • Cilia / chemistry
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dyneins / chemistry*
  • Dyneins / physiology*
  • Eels
  • Flagella / chemistry
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Molecular
  • Sperm Tail / chemistry
  • Sperm Tail / physiology
  • Tetrahymena


  • Dyneins