Flagellar and ciliary beating: the proven and the possible

J Cell Sci. 2010 Feb 15;123(Pt 4):519-28. doi: 10.1242/jcs.051326.


The working mechanism of the eukaryotic flagellar axoneme remains one of nature's most enduring puzzles. The basic mechanical operation of the axoneme is now a story that is fairly complete; however, the mechanism for coordinating the action of the dynein motor proteins to produce beating is still controversial. Although a full grasp of the dynein switching mechanism remains elusive, recent experimental reports provide new insights that might finally disclose the secrets of the beating mechanism: the special role of the inner dynein arms, especially dynein I1 and the dynein regulatory complex, the importance of the dynein microtubule-binding affinity at the stalk, and the role of bending in the selection of the active dynein group have all been implicated by major new evidence. This Commentary considers this new evidence in the context of various hypotheses of how axonemal dynein coordination might work.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axoneme / physiology
  • Axoneme / ultrastructure
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Dyneins / physiology
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Flagella / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / physiology
  • Movement / physiology


  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Dyneins