Ciliates and flagellates temporarily swim backwards on collision by generating a mechanoreceptor potential. Although this potential has been shown to be associated with cilia in Paramecium, the molecular entity of the mechanoreceptor has remained unknown. Here we show that Chlamydomonas cells express TRP11, a member of the TRP (transient receptor potential) subfamily V, in the proximal region of the flagella, and that suppression of TRP11 expression results in loss of the avoiding reaction. The results indicate that Chlamydomonas flagella exhibit mechanosensitivity, despite constant motility, by localizing the mechanoreceptor in the proximal region, where active bending is restricted.
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