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Immunological analysis showed that antibodies against the intermediate chains (ICs) IC2 and IC3 of sea urchin outer arm dynein specifically cross-reacted with intermediate chains IC78 and IC69, respectively, of Chlamydomonas outer arm dynein. In contrast, no specific cross-reactivity with any Chlamydomonas outer arm polypeptide was observed using antibody against IC1 of sea urchin outer arm dynein. To learn more about the relationships between the different ICs, overlapping cDNAs encoding all of IC2 and IC3 of sea urchin were isolated and sequenced. Comparison of these sequences with those previously obtained for the Chlamydomonas ICs revealed that, although all four chains are homologous, sea urchin IC2 is much more closely related to Chlamydomonas IC78 (45.8% identity), and sea urchin IC3 is much more closely related to Chlamydomonas IC69 (48.5% identity), than either sea urchin chain is related to the other (23.5% identity). For homologous pairs, the similarities extend throughout the full lengths of the chains. Regions of similarity between all four ICs and the IC (IC74) of cytoplasmic dynein, located in the C-terminal halves of the chains, are due primarily to conservation of the WD repeats present in all of these ICs. This is the first demonstration that structural differences between individual ICs within an outer arm dynein have been highly conserved in the dyneins of distantly related species. The results provide a basis for the subclassification of these chains.