High speed sliding of axonemal microtubules produced by outer arm dynein

Raviraja N. Seetharam, Peter Satir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


To study dynein arm activity at high temporal resolution, axonemal sliding was measured field by field for wild type and dynein arm mutants of Tetrahymena thermophila. For wt SB255 cells, when the rate of data acquisition was 60 fps, about 5x greater than previously published observations, sliding was observed to be discontinuous with very high velocity sliding (average 196 μm/sec) for a few msec (1 or 2 fields) followed by a pause of several fields. The sliding velocities measured were an order of magnitude greater than rates previously measured by video analysis. However, when the data were analyzed at 12 fps for the same axonemes, consistent with previous observations, sliding was linear as the axonemes extended several times their original length with an average velocity of ≈ 10 μm/sec. The pauses or stops occurred at approximately 200 and 300% of the initial length, suggesting that dynein arms on one axonemal doublet were initially active to the limit of extension, and then the arms on the next doublet became activated. In contrast, in a mutant where OADs are missing, sliding observed at 60 fps was continuous and slow (5 μm/sec), as opposed to the discontinuous high-velocity sliding of SB255 and of the mutant at the permissive temperature where OADs are present. High-velocity step-wise sliding was also present in axonemes from an inner arm dynein mutant (KO6). These results indicate that the high-speed discontinuous pattern of sliding is produced by the mechanochemical activity of outer arm dynein. The rate of sliding is consistent with a low duty ratio of the outer arm dynein and with the operation of each arm along a doublet once per beat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Axoneme
  • Beat frequency
  • Cilia
  • Dynein
  • Tetrahymena

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Cell Biology


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