The outer dynein arm of Chlamydomonas flagella, when isolated under Mg(2+)-free conditions, tends to dissociate into an 11 to 12S particle (12S dynein) containing the gamma heavy chain and a 21S particle (called 18S dynein) containing the alpha and beta heavy chains. We show here that functional outer arms can be reconstituted by the addition of 12S and 18S dyneins to the axonemes of the outer armless mutants oda1-oda6. A third factor that sediments at integral 7S is required for efficient reconstitution of the outer arms on the axonemes of oda1 and oda3. However, this factor is not necessary for reconstitution on the axonemes of oda2, oda4, oda5, and oda6. SDS-PAGE analysis indicates that the axonemes of the former two mutants lack a integral of 70-kD polypeptide that is present in those of the other mutants as well as in the 7S fraction from the wild-type extract. Furthermore, electron micrographs of axonemal cross sections revealed that the latter four mutants, but not oda1 or oda3, have small pointed structures on the outer doublets, at a position in cross section where outer arms normally occur. We suggest that the 7S factor constitutes the pointed structure on the outer doublets and facilitates attachment of the outer arm. The discovery of this structure raises a new question as to how the attachment site for the outer arm dynein is determined within the axoneme.

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