Ciliary and flagellar axonemes are basically composed of nine outer doublet microtubules and several functional components, e.g. dynein arms, radial spokes, and interdoublet links. Each A-tubule of the doublet contains a specialized "ribbon" of three protofilaments composed of tubulin and other proteins postulated to specify the three-dimensional arrangement of the various axonemal components. The interdoublet links hold the doublet microtubules together and limit their sliding during the flagellar beat. In this study on Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, we cloned a cDNA encoding a 71,985-Da polypeptide with three DM10 repeats, two C-terminal EF-hand motifs, and homologs extending to humans. This polypeptide, designated as Rib72, is a novel component of the ribbon compartment of flagellar microtubules. It remained associated with 9-fold arrays of doublet tubules following extraction under high and low ionic conditions, and anti-Rib72 antibodies revealed an ∼96-nm periodicity along axonemes, consistent with Rib72 associating with interdoublet links. Following proteolysis- and ATP-dependent disintegration of axonemes, the rate of cleavage of Rib72 correlated closely with the rate of sliding disintegration. These observations identify a ribbon-associated protein that may function in the structural assembly of the axoneme and in the mechanism and regulation of ciliary and flagellar motility.
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