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Gene Expr Patterns. 2019 May 2;33:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.gep.2019.04.003. [Epub ahead of print]

Evolution and expression of the zebrafish unc119 paralogues indicates a conserved role in cilia.

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Dept. Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Dept. Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Electronic address:


UNC119 proteins are required for ciliary trafficking in a process called lipidated protein intraflagellar targeting (LIFT) or through vesicle transport. However, although unc119 has been studied in a variety of contexts, either organismal constraints or genetic redundancy has largely restricted their study in ciliary contexts. One possible solution for this is to use the zebrafish, however, the unc119 genes have not been well described in this species. In our study, we show in a condensed species tree that the presence of unc119 genes correlates with the presence of cilia across eukaryotes and that phylogenetic evidence suggests there are three subgroups of UNC119 proteins. Zebrafish contain all three of these subgroups: two vertebrate-specific UNC119A proteins, one vertebrate-specific UNC119B protein, and one UNC119. Expression analyses show that each of the zebrafish unc119 genes are maternally-expressed and have overlapping but distinct expression in ciliated tissues, such as the eye, pronephric duct, and spinal cord. Overall, these findings set the foundation for future studies into the use of the zebrafish to study unc119 gene knock-outs, particularly from a ciliary perspective.


In situ hybridization; Lipidated protein intraflagellar targeting (LIFT); Phylogenetic tree; RT-PCR; Synteny; Vesicular trafficking


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