We have determined the relationship between microtubule length and translocation velocity from recordings of bovine brain microtubules translocating over a Paramecium 22S dynein substratum in an in vitro assay chamber. For comparison with untreated samples, the 22S dynein has been subjected to detergent and/or to pretreatments that induce phosphorylation of an associated 29 kDa light chain. Control and treated dyneins have been used at the same densities in the translocation assays. In any given condition, translocation velocity (v) shows an initial increase with microtubule length (L) and then reaches a plateau. This situation may be represented by a hyperbola of the general form v = aL/(L+b), which is formally analogous to the Briggs-Haldane relationship, which we have used to interpret our data. The results indicate that the maximum translocation velocity Vo(= a) is increased by pretreatment, whereas the length constant KL(= b), which corresponds to Km, does not change with pretreatment, implying that the mechanochemical properties of the pretreated dyneins differ from those of control dyneins. The conclusion that KL is constant for defined in vitro assays rules out the possibility that the velocity changes seen are caused by changes in geometry in the translocation assays or by the numbers of dyneins or dynein heads needed to produce maximal translocational velocity. From our analysis, we determine that f, the fraction of cycle time during which the dynein is in the force-generating state, is small--roughly 0.01, comparable to the f determined previously for heavy meromyosin. The practical limits of these mechanochemical changes imply that the maximum possible ciliary beat frequency is about 120 Hz, and that in the physiological range of 5–60 Hz, beat frequency could be controlled by varying the numbers of phosphorylated outer arm dyneins along an axonemal microtubule.
ASJC Scopus subject areas