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EMBO J. 2007 Jun 20;26(12):2966-80. Epub 2007 May 17.

Distinct IFT mechanisms contribute to the generation of ciliary structural diversity in C. elegans.

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Department of Biology and National Center for Behavioral Genomics, Brandeis University, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 2454, USA.


Individual cell types can elaborate morphologically diverse cilia. Cilia are assembled via intraflagellar transport (IFT) of ciliary precursors; however, the mechanisms that generate ciliary diversity are unknown. Here, we examine IFT in the structurally distinct cilia of the ASH/ASI and the AWB chemosensory neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans, enabling us to compare IFT in specific cilia types. We show that unlike in the ASH/ASI cilia, the OSM-3 kinesin moves independently of the kinesin-II motor in the AWB cilia. Although OSM-3 is essential to extend the distal segments of the ASH/ASI cilia, it is not required to build the AWB distal segments. Mutations in the fkh-2 forkhead domain gene result in AWB-specific defects in ciliary morphology, and FKH-2 regulates kinesin-II subunit gene expression specifically in AWB. Our results suggest that cell-specific regulation of IFT contributes to the generation of ciliary diversity, and provide insights into the networks coupling the acquisition of ciliary specializations with other aspects of cell fate.

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