Volume 9 (2013) Pages 141-148
Flagella/cilia are motile organelles with more than 400 proteins. To understand the mechanism of such complex systems, we need methods to describe molecular arrangements and conformations three-dimensionally in vivo. Cryo-electron tomography enabled us such a 3D structural analysis. Our group has been working on 3D structure of flagella/cilia using this method and revealed highly ordered and beautifully organized molecular arrangement. 3D structure gave us insights into the mechanism to generate bending motion with well defined waveforms. In this review, I summarize our recent structural studies on flagella/cilia by cryo-electron tomography, mainly focusing on dynein microtubule-based ATPase motor proteins and the radial spoke, a regulatory protein complex.