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The building block of the axonmene is the microtubule; each axoneme is composed of several microtubules aligned in parallel. More specifically, the microtubules are arranged in a characteristic pattern known as the “9x2 + 2," as shown in the image at right. Nine sets of "doublet" microtubules (a specialized structure consisting of two linked microtubules) form a ring around a "central pair" of single microtubules.
Besides the microtubules, the axoneme contains many proteins and protein complexes necessary for its function. The dynein arms, for example, are motor complexes which produce the force needed for bending. Each dynein arm is anchored to a doublet microtubule; by "walking" along an adjacent microtubule, the dynein motors can cause the microtubules to slide against each other. When this is carried out in a synchronized fashion, with the mictrotubules on one side of the axonmene being pulled 'down' and those on the other side pulled 'up,' the axoneme as a whole can bend back and forth. This process is responsible for ciliary/flagellar beating, as in the well-known example of the human sperm.
The radial spoke is another protein complex of the axoneme. Thought to be important in regulating the motion of the axoneme, this "T"-shaped complex projects from each set of outer doublets toward the central microtubules.
The axoneme structure in non-motile primary cilium shows some variation from the canonical “9x2 + 2” anatomy. No dynein arms are found on the outer doublet microtubules, and there is no pair of central microtubule singlets. This organization of axoneme is referred as “9x2 + 0”. In addition, “9x2 + 1” axonemes, with only a single central microtubule, have been found to exist.
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|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Axoneme". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|