C/A dynein is a novel dynein isolated from sea urchin sperm flagellar axonemes. It is composed of C and A heavy chains and some additional lower molecular mass polypeptide chains. The characterization of ATPase activity and the interaction of this dynein with microtubules polymerized from calf brain tubulin were investigated in this study. The ATPase activity of C/A dynein (0.3-0.4 mumol Pi/min per mg) was about one half that of outer arm 21 S dynein (0.6-0.8 mumol Pi/min per mg) at 25 degrees C. Vanadate inhibited the ATPase activity with a half-maximal inhibition at 1 microM. C/A dynein absorbed to the glass surface was able to translocate the microtubules towards its plus end. The velocity of the microtubule movement in the presence of 1 mM ATP was 4.0 to 4.5 microns/s at 22 degrees C. C/A dynein binds to and bundles the microtubules even in the presence of ATP. Cross-bridges were found between adjacent microtubules in the bundle with an axial periodicity of about 24 nm. The ATPase activity of C/A dynein was enhanced up to several-fold by the microtubules at concentration as low as 1 mg/ml. On the other hand, 21 S dynein bound to the microtubules with 24 nm axial periodicity only in the absence of ATP. Its ATPase activity was not activated by the microtubules. From these results, it is concluded that the manner of interaction with microtubules of C/A dynein is different from that of the outer arm dynein.

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