The molecular composition and organization of the row of axonemal inner dynein arms were investigated by biochemical and electron microscopic analyses of Chlamydomonas wild-type and mutant axonemes. Three inner arm structures could be distinguished on the basis of their molecular composition and position in the axoneme as determined by analysis of pf30 and pf23 mutants. The three inner arm structures repeat every 96 nm and are referred to here as inner arms I1, I2, and I3. I1 is proximal to the radial spoke S1, whereas I2 and I3 are distal to spokes S1 and S2, respectively. The mutant pf30 lacks I1 whereas the mutant pf23 lacks both I1 and I2 but has a normal inner arm I3. Each of the six heavy chains that was identified as an inner dynein arm subunit has a site for ATP binding and hydrolysis. Two of the heavy chains together with a polypeptide of 140,000 molecular weight form the inner arm I1 and were extracted from the axoneme as a complex that had a sedimentation coefficient close to 21S at high ionic strength. Different subsets of two of the remaining four heavy chains form the inner arms I2 and I3. These arms at high ionic strength are dissociated as 11S particles that include one heavy chain, one intermediate chain, two light chains, and actin. These and other lines of evidence indicate that the inner arm I1 is different in structure and function from the inner arms I2 and I3.

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