Proteomic analysis of a eukaryotic cilium

J Cell Biol. 2005 Jul 4;170(1):103-13. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200504008.


Cilia and flagella are widespread cell organelles that have been highly conserved throughout evolution and play important roles in motility, sensory perception, and the life cycles of eukaryotes ranging from protists to humans. Despite the ubiquity and importance of these organelles, their composition is not well known. Here we use mass spectrometry to identify proteins in purified flagella from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. 360 proteins were identified with high confidence, and 292 more with moderate confidence. 97 out of 101 previously known flagellar proteins were found, indicating that this is a very complete dataset. The flagellar proteome is rich in motor and signal transduction components, and contains numerous proteins with homologues associated with diseases such as cystic kidney disease, male sterility, and hydrocephalus in humans and model vertebrates. The flagellum also contains many proteins that are conserved in humans but have not been previously characterized in any organism. The results indicate that flagella are far more complex than previously estimated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / chemistry*
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / ultrastructure
  • Cilia / chemistry*
  • Cilia / metabolism
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Conserved Sequence / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteome / genetics
  • Proteomics
  • Protozoan Proteins / analysis*
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Proteome
  • Protozoan Proteins