Molecular chaperones in cilia and flagella: implications for protein turnover

Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1999 Dec;44(4):274-83. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0169(199912)44:4<274::AID-CM5>3.0.CO;2-O.


The mechanisms of protein incorporation and turnover in 9+2 ciliary axonemes are not known. Previous reports of an HSP70-related protein, first in Chlamydomonas flagella and then in sea urchin embryonic cilia, suggested a potential role in protein transport or incorporation. The present study further explores this and other chaperones in axonemes from a representative range of organisms. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis proved identity between the sea urchin ciliary 78 kDa HSP and a constitutive cytoplasmic HSP70 cognate (pI = 5.71). When isolated flagella from mature sea urchin sperm were analyzed, the same total amount and distribution of 78 kDa protein as in cilia were found. Antigens of similar size were detected in ctenophore comb plate, molluscan gill, and rabbit tracheal cilia. Absent from sea urchin sperm flagella, TCP-1alpha was detected in sea urchin embryonic and rabbit tracheal cilia; the latter also contained HSP90, detected by two distinct antibodies. Tracheal cilia were shown to undergo axonemal protein turnover while tracheal cells mainly synthesized ciliary proteins. TCP-1alpha progressively appeared in regenerating embryonic cilia only as their growth slowed, suggesting a regulatory role in incorporation or turnover. These results demonstrate that chaperones are widely distributed ciliary and flagellar components, potentially related to axonemal protein dynamics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chaperonin Containing TCP-1
  • Chaperonins / metabolism
  • Cilia / metabolism*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Flagella / metabolism*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / chemistry
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism
  • Molecular Chaperones / physiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Rabbits
  • Sea Urchins / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / ultrastructure
  • Time Factors
  • Trachea / ultrastructure


  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Chaperonin Containing TCP-1
  • Chaperonins