Functional diversity of axonemal dyneins as studied in Chlamydomonas mutants

Int Rev Cytol. 2002;219:115-55. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(02)19012-7.


Cilia and flagella of most organisms are equipped with two kinds of motor protein complex, the inner and outer dynein arms. The two arms were previously thought to be similar to each other, but recent studies using Chlamydomonas mutants indicate that they differ significantly in subunit structure and arrangement within the axoneme. For example, whereas the outer dynein arm exists as a single protein complex containing three heavy chains, the inner dynein arm comprises seven different subspecies each containing one or two discrete heavy chains. Furthermore, the two kinds of arms appear to differ in function also. Most strikingly, our studies suggest that inner-arm dynein, but not outer-arm dynein, is under the control of the central pair microtubules and radial spokes. The axoneme thus appears to be equipped with two rather distinct systems for beating: one involving inner-arm dyneins, the central pair and radial spokes, and the other involving outer-arm dynein alone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / genetics*
  • Chlamydomonas / genetics
  • Chlamydomonas / metabolism*
  • Chlamydomonas / ultrastructure
  • Cilia / genetics
  • Cilia / metabolism*
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Dyneins / genetics
  • Dyneins / metabolism*
  • Flagella / genetics
  • Flagella / metabolism*
  • Flagella / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Structure
  • Mutation / physiology*


  • Dyneins