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The beginning of the end of flagella

HANOVER, NH A new protein discovery sheds light on how chemical information is transported within cells. A group of researchers, which includes Dartmouth Professor of Biological Sciences Roger Sloboda, have found the protein EB1 in Chlamydomonas, a single-celled organism commonly used to study cell biology. Previous research has implicated EB1 in the progression of many colon cancers.

Published in the November 11 edition of the journal Current Biology, the research examined the chemical motors that power events in flagella, antenna-like structures on some cells. Specifically, the research focused on intraflagellar transport (IFT), the process where proteins required for flagellar growth and maintenance move within the flagella. The discovery of the protein EB1 at the tip of the flagella on Chlamydomonas furthers investigations into the role the protein plays in flagellar function and perhaps in regulating IFT itself.

"Particles move out to the tip of the flagella, turn around, and then move back to the base," says Sloboda, who conducted this research in Joel Rosenbaum's laboratory at Yale University while on sabbatical last year. "The only change in speed or direction occurs when the particles reach the tip. Now we think EB1 might play a role in controlling the molecular transport system responsible for IFT when the particles reach the tip. This finding will help us get a handle on what's going on at the tip of the flagellum."

The flagella beat rhythmically, moving the organism, and are made of nine double strands of microtubules and a central pair. According to Sloboda, similar IFT phenomena also take place in rod and cone cells of the human retina, in human kidney cells, and in nerve cells.

To determine where EB1 occurs in Chlamydomonas cells, the researchers cloned and sequenced the protein to make antibodies specific for EB1. The researchers found that the antibodies bound to the flagella tips, indicating that EB1 stays at the
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Contact: Sue Knapp
Sue.Knapp@Dartmouth.edu
603-646-3661
Dartmouth College
20-Nov-2003


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