A novel MAP kinase regulates flagellar length in Chlamydomonas

Steven A. Berman, Nedra F. Wilson, Nancy A. Haas, Paul A. Lefebvre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

133 Scopus citations


Little is known about the molecular basis of organelle size control in eukaryotes. Cells of the biflagellate alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii actively maintain their flagella at a precise length. Chlamydomonas mutants that lose control of flagellar length have been isolated and used to demonstrate that a dynamic process keeps flagella at an appropriate length [1, 2]. To date, none of the proteins required for flagellar length control have been identified in any eukaryotic organism. Here, we show that a novel MAP kinase is crucial to enforcing wild-type flagellar length in C. reinhardtii. Null mutants of LF4 [2], a gene encoding a protein with extensive amino acid sequence identity to a mammalian MAP kinase of unknown function, MOK [3], are unable to regulate the length of their flagella. The LF4 protein (LF4p) is localized to the flagella, and in vitro enzyme assays confirm that the protein is a MAP kinase. The long-flagella phenotype of If4 cells is rescued by transformation with the cloned LF4 gene. The demonstration that a novel MAP kinase helps enforce flagellar length control indicates that a previously unidentified signal transduction pathway controls organelle size in C. reinhardtii.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1149
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2003

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