Three clinical patterns of inhibition of MgATP2—activated flagellar motility have been found by measuring the motility of Triton-demembranated sea-urchin spermatozoa beating with their heads attached to a glass surface. Inhibition of beat frequency by the reaction products, ADP and Pi, is competitive with the normal substrate, MgATP2-, and the inhibitory effects are similar to a reduction in MgATP2- concentration. Inhibition of beat frequency by ATP4- is competitive with MgATP2, but is accompanied by an inhibition of bending, as measured by the angle between the straight regions on either side of a bend, which is not seen when MgATP2- concentration is reduced. Inhibition of beat frequency by Mg2+ is not competitive with MgATP2-, and is accompanied by an increase in bend angle, so that there is no change in the rate of sliding between flagellar tubules. These differences suggest unexpected complexity of dynein ATPase action in flagella. The beat frequencies of both swimming and attached spermatozoa show a linear double reciprocal dependence on MgATP2- concentration, with identical slopes. The calculated sliding velocities between tubules also give linear relationships, but the slopes are different, suggesting that beat frequency may be the more fundamental dependent variable in this system.

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