The Architecture of Outer Dynein Arms in Situ
Outer dynein arms, the force generators for axonemal motion, form arrays on microtubule doublets in situ, although they are bouquet-like complexes with separated heads of multiple heavy chains when isolated in vitro. To understand how the three heavy chains are folded in the array, we reconstructed the detailed 3D structure of outer dynein arms of Chlamydomonas flagella in situ by electron cryo-tomography and single-particle averaging. The outer dynein arm binds to the A-microtubule through three interfaces on two adjacent protofilaments, two of which probably represent the docking complex. The three AAA rings of heavy chains, seen as stacked plates, are connected in a striking manner on microtubule doublets. The tail of the alpha-heavy chain, identified by analyzing the oda11 mutant, which lacks alpha-heavy chain, extends from the AAA ring tilted toward the tip of the axoneme and towards the inside of the axoneme at 50 degrees , suggesting a three-dimensional power stroke. The neighboring outer dynein arms are connected through two filamentous structures: one at the exterior of the axoneme and the other through the alpha-tail. Although the beta-tail seems to merge with the alpha-tail at the internal side of the axoneme, the gamma-tail is likely to extend at the exterior of the axoneme and join the AAA ring. This suggests that the fold and function of gamma-heavy chain are different from those of alpha and beta-chains.
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