Send to

Choose Destination
Bioessays. 2006 Feb;28(2):191-8.

Evolution of intraflagellar transport from coated vesicles and autogenous origin of the eukaryotic cilium.

Author information

European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany.


The cilium/flagellum is a sensory-motile organelle ancestrally present in eukaryotic cells. For assembly cilia universally rely on intraflagellar transport (IFT), a specialised bidirectional transport process mediated by the ancestral and conserved IFT complex. Based on the homology of IFT complex proteins to components of coat protein I (COPI) and clathrin-coated vesicles, we propose that the non- vesicular, membrane-bound IFT evolved as a specialised form of coated vesicle transport from a protocoatomer complex. IFT thus shares common ancestry with all protocoatomer derivatives, including all vesicle coats and the nuclear pore complex (NPC). This has major implications for the evolutionary origin of the cilium. First, it reinforces the tenet that duplication and divergence of pre-existing structures, rather than symbiosis, were the major themes during cilium evolution. Second, it suggests that the initial step in the autogenous origin of the cilium was the establishment of a membrane patch with transmembrane proteins transported by the ancestral vesicle-coating IFT complex. We propose a scenario for how the initial membrane patch gradually protruded to enhance exposure to the environment, then started to move, and finally compartmentalised to render receptor signalling and ciliary beating more efficient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center