Flagellar Length Control System: Testing a Simple Model Based on Intraflagellar Transport and Turnover Academic Article uri icon


  • Flagellar length regulation provides a simple model system for addressing the general problem of organelle size control. Based on a systems-level analysis of flagellar dynamics, we have proposed a mechanism for flagellar length control in which length is set by the balance of continuous flagellar assembly and disassembly. The model proposes that the assembly rate is length dependent due to the inherent length dependence of intraflagellar transport, whereas disassembly is length independent, such that the two rates can only reach a balance point at a single length. In this report, we test this theoretical model by using three different measurements: 1) the quantity of intraflagellar transport machinery as a function of length, 2) the variation of flagellar length as a function of flagellar number, and 3) the rate of flagellar growth as a function of length. We find that the quantity of intraflagellar transport machinery is independent of length, that flagellar length is a decreasing function of flagellar number, and that flagellar growth rate in regenerating flagella depends on length and not on the time since regeneration began. These results are consistent with the balance-point model for length control. The three strategies used here are not limited to flagella and can in principle be adapted to probe size control systems for any organelle.

author list (cited authors)

  • Marshall, W. F., Qin, H., Brenni, M. R., & Rosenbaum, J. L.

complete list of authors

  • Marshall, Wallace F||Qin, Hongmin||Rodrigo Brenni, Mónica||Rosenbaum, Joel L

publication date

  • January 1, 2004 11:11 AM