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Mol Biol Cell. 2002 Apr;13(4):1417-26.

Kinesin-II is required for flagellar sensory transduction during fertilization in Chlamydomonas.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, TX 75390-9039, USA.


The assembly and maintenance of eucaryotic flagella and cilia depend on the microtubule motor, kinesin-II. This plus end-directed motor carries intraflagellar transport particles from the base to the tip of the organelle, where structural components of the axoneme are assembled. Here we test the idea that kinesin-II also is essential for signal transduction. When mating-type plus (mt+) and mating-type minus (mt-) gametes of the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas are mixed together, binding interactions between mt+ and mt- flagellar adhesion molecules, the agglutinins, initiate a signaling pathway that leads to increases in intracellular cAMP, gamete activation, and zygote formation. A critical question in Chlamydomonas fertilization has been how agglutinin interactions are coupled to increases in intracellular cAMP. Recently, fla10 gametes with a temperature-sensitive defect in FLA10 kinesin-II were found to not form zygotes at the restrictive temperature (32 degrees C). We found that, although the rates and extents of flagellar adhesion in fla10 gametes at 32 degrees C are indistinguishable from wild-type gametes, the cells do not undergo gamete activation. On the other hand, fla10 gametes at 32 degrees C regulated agglutinin location and underwent gamete fusion when the cells were incubated in dibutyryl cAMP, indicating that their capacity to respond to the cAMP signal was intact. We show that the cellular defect in the fla10 gametes at 32 degrees C is a failure to undergo increases in cAMP during flagella adhesion. Thus, in addition to being essential for assembly and maintenance of the structural components of flagella, kinesin-II/intraflagellar transport plays a role in sensory transduction in these organelles.

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