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Curr Biol. 2006 Mar 7;16(5):450-9.

Dissecting the molecular mechanisms of intraflagellar transport in chlamydomonas.

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Institute of Molecular Biology and Physiology, University of Copenhagen, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.



The assembly and maintenance of eukaryotic cilia and flagella are mediated by intraflagellar transport (IFT), a bidirectional microtubule (MT)-based transport system. The IFT system consists of anterograde (kinesin-2) and retrograde (cDynein1b) motor complexes and IFT particles comprising two complexes, A and B. In the current model for IFT, kinesin-2 carries cDynein1b, IFT particles, and axonemal precursors from the flagellar base to the tip, and cDynein1b transports kinesin-2, IFT particles, and axonemal turnover products from the tip back to the base. Most of the components of the IFT system have been identified and characterized, but the mechanisms by which these different components are coordinated and regulated at the flagellar base and tip are unclear.


Using a variety of Chlamydomonas mutants, we confirm that cDynein1b requires kinesin-2 for transport toward the tip and show that during retrograde IFT, kinesin-2 can exit the flagella independent of the cDynein1b light intermediate chain (LIC) and IFT particles. Furthermore, using biochemical approaches, we find that IFT complex B can associate with cDynein1b independent of complex A and cDynein1b LIC. Finally, using electron microscopy, we show that the IFT tip turnaround point most likely is localized distal to the plus end of the outer-doublet B MTs.


Our results support a model for IFT in which tip turnaround involves (1) dissociation of IFT complexes A and B and release of inactive cDynein1b from complex B, (2) binding of complex A to active cDynein1b, and (3) reassociation of complex B with A prior to retrograde IFT.

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