Computer modelling: A versatile tool for the study of structure and function in cilia

Michael E.J. Holwill, Helen C. Taylor, Ernestina Guevara, Peter Satir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


An accurate and adaptable 3-D structural computer model of the axoneme has been built at a resolution of 4 nm. The model is invaluable in the interpretation of electron micrographs and in the resolution of structural ambiguities. Experiments involving the movement of microtubules by assemblies of dynein motors have been interpreted by computer simulation, using separate models with (a) highly co-ordinated and (b) completely random interactions between the motors. Both simulations provide reasonable agreement with experiment. Finite element analysis is being used to interpret the functions of the axonemal components. Components have been assigned mechanical properties and the distortion of a pair of linked microtubules by assemblies of dynein motors predicted successfully. The structural model provides a means to assess the functional interpretations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-243
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Protistology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998



  • Axoneme
  • Cilia
  • Computer modelling
  • Electron microscopy
  • Flagella

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology

Cite this