Remarkably versatile anchoring mechanism discovered in Flagella
A recent study published in the Journal of Cell Biology regarding the radial spoke complex in eukaryotic cilia and flagella, revealed a ubiquitous mechanism once thought to be exclusive for signal transduction. Dr. Pinfen Yang’s lab demonstrates that Radial Spoke Protein 3 (RSP3) forms a core scaffold for the entire radial spoke complex, using specific sites to anchor multiple core spoke proteins, which in turn recruit the rest of the subunits. This design allows the radial spoke to position distinct components at precise locations to execute, or to modulate, the function of the radial spoke—the control of flagellar beating. Notably, the anchoring systems elucidated here are not limited to the radial spoke, or even C. reinhardtii , the green algae model organism used by the Yang lab. In fact, similar molecular units for the anchoring system reside in macromolecular complexes in various cellular compartments of all eukaryotes, ranging from yeast to human. Apparently, location matters, for a variety of reasons. This finding will provide researchers a new direction to study vital molecular machinery that harbors similar ubiquitous anchoring units.
This article features research conducted by recent alumni from the Yang lab. Dr. Priyanka Sivadas earned her Ph.D. in 2011, and is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Southern California. Jennifer Dienes graduated in 2005 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, went on to law school, and now is an associate specializing in intellectual property law with Ice Miller in Chicago.