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Dis Model Mech. 2010 Jul-Aug;3(7-8):441-50. doi: 10.1242/dmm.002816. Epub 2010 Mar 11.

A latent capacity of the C. elegans polycystins to disrupt sensory transduction is repressed by the single-pass ciliary membrane protein CWP-5.

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  • 1Center for Neural Development and Disease, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) results from loss-of-function mutations in PKD1 or PKD2. The products of these genes, the polycystins PC-1 and PC-2, form a transmembrane channel that is necessary for flow sensing by renal cilia. In C. elegans, the polycystin orthologs LOV-1 and PKD-2 function in sensory neurons that mediate male mating behavior. Here, we report that the novel single-pass membrane protein CWP-5 is necessary for polycystin signaling during the response step of mating behavior. As with the polycystins, CWP-5 localizes to neuronal cilia; this localization requires LOV-1. The response defect of cwp-5 mutants does not appear to result from disruption of ciliogenesis or polycystin localization. Instead, genetic and behavioral analyses indicate that CWP-5 represses a previously undescribed antagonistic effect of the polycystins on sensory function. Although cwp-5 does not have a primary-sequence ortholog in vertebrates, it has intriguing parallels with the autosomal recessive PKD gene FPC (also known as PKHD1). Together, this study identifies a new component of C. elegans polycystin signaling, demonstrates that the polycystins have a latent capacity to hinder sensory transduction, and suggests that aberrant functions of the polycystins could contribute to the pathogenesis of PKD.

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