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Dev Cell. 2004 Mar;6(3):445-51.

An aurora kinase is essential for flagellar disassembly in Chlamydomonas.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.


Cilia and flagella play key roles in development and sensory transduction, and several human disorders, including polycystic kidney disease, are associated with the failure to assemble cilia. Here, we show that the aurora protein kinase CALK in the biflagellated alga Chlamydomonas has a central role in two pathways for eliminating flagella. Cells rendered deficient in CALK were defective in regulated flagellar excision and regulated flagellar disassembly. Exposure of cells to altered ionic conditions, the absence of a centriole/basal body for nucleating flagellar assembly, cessation of delivery of flagellar components to their tip assembly site, and formation of zygotes all led to activation of the regulated disassembly pathway as indicated by phosphorylation of CALK and the absence of flagella. We propose that cells have a sensory pathway that detects conditions that are inappropriate for possession of a flagellum, and that CALK is a key effector of flagellar disassembly in that pathway.

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