Organisms that have cilia or flagella express over a dozen dynein heavy chain genes. Of these heavy chain genes, most appear to encode axonemal dyneins, one encodes conventional cytoplasmic dynein (MAP1C or DHC1a), and one, here referred to as DHC1b, encodes an unclassified heavy chain. Previous analysis of sea urchin DHC1b (Gibbons et al. (1994) Mol. Biol. Cell 5, 57–70) indicated that this isoform is either an axonemal dynein with an unusual protein sequence or a cytoplasmic dynein whose expression increases during ciliogenesis. In the present study, we examined the expression of DHC1b in rat tissues. The DHC1b gene is expressed in all tissues examined, including unciliated liver and heart cells. In contrast, rat axonemal dyneins are only expressed in tissues that produce cilia or flagella. In cultured rat tracheal epithelial (RTE) cells, DHC1b is expressed in undifferentiated cells and increases in expression during ciliogenesis. In contrast, the expression of conventional cytoplasmic dynein, DHC1a, does not change during RTE differentiation and axonemal dynein is not expressed until after differentiation commences. In order to examine the expression of DHC1b protein, we produced an isoform-specific antibody to a synthetic peptide derived from the rat DHC1b sequence. The antibody demonstrated that DHC1b is a relatively minor component of partially purified cytoplasmic dynein. Indirect immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that DHC1b is not detected in cilia and remains in the cytoplasm of ciliated RTE cells, often accumulating at the apical ends of the cells. These results suggest that DHC1b is a cytoplasmic dynein that may participate in intracellular trafficking in polarized cells.
- © 1996 by Company of Biologists