To produce oscillatory bending movement in cilia and flagella, the activity of dynein arms must be regulated. The central-pair microtubules, located at the centre of the axoneme, are often thought to be involved in the regulation, but this has not been demonstrated definitively. In order to determine whether the central-pair apparatus are directly involved in the regulation of the dynein arm activity, we analyzed the movement of singlet microtubules that were brought into contact with dynein arms on bundles of doublets obtained by sliding disintegration of elastase-treated flagellar axonemes. An advantege of this new assay system was that we could distinguish the bundles that contained the central pair apparatus from those that did not, the former being clearly thicker than the latter. We found that microtubule sliding occurred along both the thinner and the thicker bundles, but its velocity differed between the two kinds of bundles in an ATP concentration dependent manner. At high ATP concentrations, such as 0.1 and 1 mM, the sliding velocity on the thinner bundles was significantly higher than that on the thicker bundles, while at lower ATP concentrations the sliding velocity did not change between the thinner and the thicker bundles. We observed similar bundle width-related differences in sliding velocity after removal of the outer arms. These results provide first evidence suggesting that the central pair and its associated structures may directly regulate the activity of the inner (and probably also the outer) arm dynein.
1999 by Japan Society for Cell Biology