Evidence for an inequality in the forces that generate principal and reverse bends in sperm flagella

D. Eshel, C. Shingyoji, K. Yoshimura, I. R. Gibbons, K. Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The response of the mechanism initiating flagellar bends to imposed mechanical transients has been studied by holding the head of a sea urchin sperm in the tip of a sinusoidally vibrating micropipet and then displacing the micropipet laterally at a speed of up to 1.15 μm ms-1 for 1.5 beat cycle, without vibration, before resuming sinusoidal vibration with the initial phase, frequency and amplitude at the new location of the pipet. This transient displacement of the micropipet delays the initiation of the bend that was due to initiate 0.5 beat cycle after onset of the displacement. The amount of this delay increases with the speed of the displacement, for speeds up to 1 μm ms-1. Analysis of the flagellar waveforms during the transient showed that with imposed displacements at speeds of equal magnitude, the initiation of a principal bend was delayed to a longer extent than that of a reverse bend. At a micropipet speed of 0.75 μm ms-1,there was an average delay of 0.21 beat cycle in the initiation time of a principal bend as compared to a delay of only about 0.04 beat cycle in the initiation time of a reverse bend during displacements in the opposite direction. For both principal and reverse bends, the second bend due to initiate during the transient displacement initiated in most of the cases with no delay, regardless of the micropipet speed. Our results suggest that the force generated by microtubule sliding to initiate a new reverse bend is greater than that generated to initiate a principal bend.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Bend parameters
  • Control mechanism
  • Flagella
  • Transient behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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