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Genetics. 2010 Jul;185(3):883-96. doi: 10.1534/genetics.110.116996. Epub 2010 Apr 26.

Specific alpha- and beta-tubulin isotypes optimize the functions of sensory Cilia in Caenorhabditis elegans.

Author information

  • 1Biology Department, St John Fisher College, Rochester, New York 14618, USA.

Abstract

Primary cilia have essential roles in transducing signals in eukaryotes. At their core is the ciliary axoneme, a microtubule-based structure that defines cilium morphology and provides a substrate for intraflagellar transport. However, the extent to which axonemal microtubules are specialized for sensory cilium function is unknown. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, primary cilia are present at the dendritic ends of most sensory neurons, where they provide a specialized environment for the transduction of particular stimuli. Here, we find that three tubulin isotypes--the alpha-tubulins TBA-6 and TBA-9 and the beta-tubulin TBB-4--are specifically expressed in overlapping sets of C. elegans sensory neurons and localize to the sensory cilia of these cells. Although cilia still form in mutants lacking tba-6, tba-9, and tbb-4, ciliary function is often compromised: these mutants exhibit a variety of sensory deficits as well as the mislocalization of signaling components. In at least one case, that of the CEM cephalic sensory neurons, cilium architecture is disrupted in mutants lacking specific ciliary tubulins. While there is likely to be some functional redundancy among C. elegans tubulin genes, our results indicate that specific tubulins optimize the functional properties of C. elegans sensory cilia.

PMID:
20421600
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2907207
Free PMC Article

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