Cilia are thin subcellular organelles that bend actively to propel fluid. The ciliary cytoskeleton (the axoneme) consists of nine outer microtubule doublets surrounding a central pair of singlet microtubules. Large bending deformations of the axoneme involve relative sliding of the outer doublets, driven by the motor protein dynein. Ciliary structure and function have been studied extensively, but details of the mechanics and coordination of the axoneme remain unclear. In particular, dynein activity must be switched on and off at specific times and locations to produce an oscillatory, propulsive beat. Leading hypotheses assert that mechanical feedback plays a role in the control of dynein activity, but these ideas remain speculative.

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