Nielsen et al., [2001: Curr Biol 11:529-533], based on studies in Drosophila, have proposed that beta tubulin in axonemal microtubules must contain a specific acidic seven amino acid sequence in its carboxyl terminus. In mammals, the two betaIV isotypes (betaIVa and betaIVb) contain that sequence. In order to test the application of this hypothesis to mammals, we have examined the expression of beta tubulin isotypes in four different ciliated tissues (trachea, ependyma, uterine tube, and testis) using isotype-specific antibodies and indirect immunofluorescence. We find that betaIV tubulin is present in all ciliated cell types examined, but so is betaI tubulin. Taken together with recent studies that show that betaI and betaIV tubulin are both present in the cilia of vestibular hair cells, olfactory neurons, and nasal respiratory epithelial cells, we propose that both betaI tubulin and betaIV tubulin may be required for axonemal structures in mammals.
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