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<jats:p>The 9 + 2 axoneme structure of the motile flagellum/cilium is an iconic, apparently symmetrical cellular structure. Recently, asymmetries along the length of motile flagella have been identified in a number of organisms, typically in the inner and outer dynein arms. Flagellum-beat waveforms are adapted for different functions. They may start either near the flagellar tip or near its base and may be symmetrical or asymmetrical. We hypothesized that proximal/distal asymmetry in the molecular composition of the axoneme may control the site of waveform initiation and the direction of waveform propagation. The unicellular eukaryotic pathogens <jats:italic>Trypanosoma brucei</jats:italic> and <jats:italic>Leishmania mexicana</jats:italic> often switch between tip-to-base and base-to-tip waveforms, making them ideal for analysis of this phenomenon. We show here that the proximal and distal portions of the flagellum contain distinct outer dynein arm docking-complex heterodimers. This proximal/distal asymmetry is produced and maintained through growth by a concentration gradient of the proximal docking complex, generated by intraflagellar transport. Furthermore, this asymmetry is involved in regulating whether a tip-to-base or base-to-tip beat occurs, which is linked to a calcium-dependent switch. Our data show that the mechanism for generating proximal/distal flagellar asymmetry can control waveform initiation and propagation direction.</jats:p>

Original publication

DOI

10.1073/pnas.1805827115

Type

Journal article

Journal

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Publisher

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Publication Date

31/07/2018

Volume

115

Pages

E7341 - E7350