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

Junmin Pan, William J. Snell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


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°C). We found that, although the rates and extents of flagellar adhesion in fla10 gametes at 32°C are indistinguishable from wild-type gametes, the cells do not undergo gamete activation. On the other hand, fla10 gametes at 32°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°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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1417-1426
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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