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J Cell Biol. 2009 Dec 14;187(6):921-33. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200908067.

The dynein regulatory complex is the nexin link and a major regulatory node in cilia and flagella.

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  • 1Biology Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02453, USA.


Cilia and flagella are highly conserved microtubule (MT)-based organelles with motile and sensory functions, and ciliary defects have been linked to several human diseases. The 9 + 2 structure of motile axonemes contains nine MT doublets interconnected by nexin links, which surround a central pair of singlet MTs. Motility is generated by the orchestrated activity of thousands of dynein motors, which drive interdoublet sliding. A key regulator of motor activity is the dynein regulatory complex (DRC), but detailed structural information is lacking. Using cryoelectron tomography of wild-type and mutant axonemes from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, we visualized the DRC in situ at molecular resolution. We present the three-dimensional structure of the DRC, including a model for its subunit organization and intermolecular connections that establish the DRC as a major regulatory node. We further demonstrate that the DRC is the nexin link, which is thought to be critical for the generation of axonemal bending.

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