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1.  NPHP4 is necessary for normal photoreceptor ribbon synapse maintenance and outer segment formation, and for sperm development 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;20(3):482-496.
Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is an autosomal recessive kidney disease that is often associated with vision and/or brain defects. To date, 11 genes are known to cause NPHP. The gene products, while structurally unrelated, all localize to cilia or centrosomes. Although mouse models of NPHP are available for 9 of the 11 genes, none has been described for nephronophthisis 4 (Nphp4). Here we report a novel, chemically induced mutant, nmf192, that bears a nonsense mutation in exon 4 of Nphp4. Homozygous mutant Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mice do not exhibit renal defects, phenotypes observed in human patients bearing mutations in NPHP4, but they do develop severe photoreceptor degeneration and extinguished rod and cone ERG responses by 9 weeks of age. Photoreceptor outer segments (OS) fail to develop properly, and some OS markers mislocalize to the inner segments and outer nuclear layer in the Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mutant retina. Despite NPHP4 localization to the transition zone in the connecting cilia (CC), the CC appear to be normal in structure and ciliary transport function is partially retained. Likewise, synaptic ribbons develop normally but then rapidly degenerate by P14. Finally, Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 male mutants are sterile and show reduced sperm motility and epididymal sperm counts. Although Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mice fail to recapitulate the kidney phenotype of NPHP, they will provide a valuable tool to further elucidate how NPHP4 functions in the retina and male reproductive organs.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq494
PMCID: PMC3016909  PMID: 21078623
2.  A Complex of BBS1 and NPHP7 Is Required for Cilia Motility in Zebrafish 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72549.
Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) and nephronophthisis (NPH) are hereditary autosomal recessive disorders, encoded by two families of diverse genes. BBS and NPH display several overlapping phenotypes including cystic kidney disease, retinitis pigmentosa, liver fibrosis, situs inversus and cerebellar defects. Since most of the BBS and NPH proteins localize to cilia and/or their appendages, BBS and NPH are considered ciliopathies. In this study, we characterized the function of the transcription factor Nphp7 in zebrafish, and addressed the molecular connection between BBS and NPH. The knockdown of zebrafish bbs1 and nphp7.2 caused similar phenotypic changes including convergent extension defects, curvature of the body axis, hydrocephalus, abnormal heart looping and cystic pronephros, all consistent with an altered ciliary function. Immunoprecipitation assays revealed a physical interaction between BBS1 and NPHP7, and the simultaneous knockdown of zbbs1 and znphp7.2 enhanced the cystic pronephros phenotype synergistically, suggesting a genetic interaction between zbbs1 and znphp7.2 in vivo. Deletion of zBbs1 or zNphp7.2 did not compromise cilia formation, but disrupted cilia motility. Although NPHP7 has been shown to act as transcriptional repressor, our studies suggest a crosstalk between BBS1 and NPHP7 in regulating normal function of the cilium.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072549
PMCID: PMC3771994  PMID: 24069149
3.  Nephrocystin-4 Regulates Pyk2-induced Tyrosine Phosphorylation of Nephrocystin-1 to Control Targeting to Monocilia* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(16):14237-14245.
Nephronophthisis is the most common genetic cause of end-stage renal failure during childhood and adolescence. Genetic studies have identified disease-causing mutations in at least 11 different genes (NPHP1–11), but the function of the corresponding nephrocystin proteins remains poorly understood. The two evolutionarily conserved proteins nephrocystin-1 (NPHP1) and nephrocystin-4 (NPHP4) interact and localize to cilia in kidney, retina, and brain characterizing nephronophthisis and associated pathologies as result of a ciliopathy. Here we show that NPHP4, but not truncating patient mutations, negatively regulates tyrosine phosphorylation of NPHP1. NPHP4 counteracts Pyk2-mediated phosphorylation of three defined tyrosine residues of NPHP1 thereby controlling binding of NPHP1 to the trans-Golgi sorting protein PACS-1. Knockdown of NPHP4 resulted in an accumulation of NPHP1 in trans-Golgi vesicles of ciliated retinal epithelial cells. These data strongly suggest that NPHP4 acts upstream of NPHP1 in a common pathway and support the concept of a role for nephrocystin proteins in intracellular vesicular transport.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M110.165464
PMCID: PMC3077625  PMID: 21357692
Centrosome; Epithelium; Golgi; Protein-tyrosine Kinase (Tyrosine Kinase); Vesicles; Pyk2; Cilium; Cystic Kidney Disease; Nephrocystin
4.  Lights on for aminopeptidases in cystic kidney disease 
While erudite cell biologists have for many decades described singular immotile appendages known as primary cilia to be present on most cells in our bodies, cilial function(s) long remained an enigma. Driven largely by an ever increasing number of discoveries of genetic defects in primary cilia during the past decade, cilia were catapulted from a long lasting existence in obscurity into the bright spotlight in cell biology and medicine. The study by O’Toole et al. in this issue of the JCI adds a novel “enzymatic” facet to the rapidly growing information about these little cellular tails, by demonstrating that defects in the XPNPEP3 gene, which encodes mitochondrial and cytosolic splice variants of X-prolyl aminopeptidase 3, can cause nephronophthisis-like ciliopathy. Future studies are in order now to elucidate the cystogenic pathways affected by disrupted enzymatic function of XPNPEP3 in cilia-related cystogenic diseases.
doi:10.1172/JCI42378
PMCID: PMC2827971  PMID: 20179346
5.  Genotype-phenotype correlation in 440 patients with NPHP-related ciliopathies 
Kidney international  2011;80(11):1239-1245.
Nephronophthisis (NPHP), an autosomal recessive cystic kidney disease, is the most frequent genetic cause for end-stage renal failure in the first 3 decades of life. Mutations in 13 genes (NPHP1-NPHP11, AHI1, and CC2D2A) cause NPHP with ubiquitous expression of the corresponding proteins consistent with the multiorgan involvement of NPHP-related diseases. The genotype-phenotype correlation in these ciliopathies can be explained by gene locus heterogeneity, allelism, and the impact of modifier genes. In some NPHP-related ciliopathies, the nature of the recessive mutations determines disease severity. In order to define the genotypephenotype correlation more clearly, we evaluated a worldwide cohort of 440 patients from 365 families with NPHP-related ciliopathies, in whom both disease-causing alleles were identified. The phenotypes were ranked in the order of severity from degenerative to degenerative/ dysplastic to dysplastic. A genotype of 2 null alleles caused a range of phenotypes with an increasing order of severity of NPHP1, NPHP3, NPHP4, NPHP5, NPHP2, NPHP10, NPHP6 to AHI1. Only NPHP6 showed allelic influences on the phenotypes; the presence of 2 null mutations caused dysplastic phenotypes, whereas at least one missense allele rescued it to a milder degenerative phenotype. We also found 9 novel mutations in the NPHP genes. Thus, our studies have important implications for genetic counseling and planning of renal replacement therapy.
doi:10.1038/ki.2011.284
PMCID: PMC4037742  PMID: 21866095
cystic kidney; end-stage renal disease; genetic renal disease; human genetics; pediatric nephrology
6.  Mutation Analysis of 18 Nephronophthisis-associated Ciliopathy Disease Genes using a DNA Pooling and Next-Generation Sequencing Strategy 
Journal of medical genetics  2010;48(2):105-116.
Background
Nephronophthisis-associated ciliopathies (NPHP-AC) comprise a group of autosomal recessive cystic kidney diseases that includes nephronophthisis (NPHP), Senior-Loken syndrome (SLS), Joubert syndrome (JBTS), and Meckel-Gruber syndrome (MKS). To date, causative mutations in NPHP-AC have been described for 18 different genes, rendering mutation analysis tedious and expensive. To overcome the broad genetic locus heterogeneity we devised a strategy of DNA pooling with consecutive massively parallel resequencing (MPR).
Methods
In 120 patients with severe NPHP-AC phenotypes we prepared 5 pools of genomic DNA with 24 patients each which were used as templates in order to PCR-amplify all 376 exons of 18 NPHP-AC genes (NPHP1, INVS, NPHP3, NPHP4, IQCB1, CEP290, GLIS2, RPGRIP1L, NEK8, TMEM67, INPP5E, TMEM216, AHI1, ARL13B, CC2D2A, TTC21B, MKS1, and XPNPEP3). PCR products were then subjected to MPR on a Illumina Genome-Analyzer and mutations were subsequently assigned to their respective mutation carrier via CEL I endonuclease-based heteroduplex screening and confirmed by Sanger sequencing.
Results
For proof of principle we used DNA from patients with known mutations and demonstrated the detection of 22 out of 24 different alleles (92% sensitivity). MPR led to the molecular diagnosis in 30/120 patients (25%) and we identified 54 pathogenic mutations (27 novel) in 7 different NPHP-AC genes. Additionally, in 24 patients we only found single heterozygous variants of unknown significance.
Conclusions
The combined approach of DNA pooling followed by MPR strongly facilitates mutation analysis in broadly heterogeneous single-gene disorders. The lack of mutations in 75% of patients in our cohort indicates further extensive heterogeneity in NPHP-AC.
doi:10.1136/jmg.2010.082552
PMCID: PMC3913043  PMID: 21068128
Next-generation sequencing; Ciliopathy; Nephronophthisis
7.  Exome capture reveals ZNF423 and CEP164 mutations, linking renal ciliopathies to DNA damage response signaling 
Chaki, Moumita | Airik, Rannar | Ghosh, Amiya K. | Giles, Rachel H. | Chen, Rui | Slaats, Gisela G. | Wang, Hui | Hurd, Toby W. | Zhou, Weibin | Cluckey, Andrew | Gee, Heon-Yung | Ramaswami, Gokul | Hong, Chen-Jei | Hamilton, Bruce A. | Červenka, Igor | Ganji, Ranjani Sri | Bryja, Vitezslav | Arts, Heleen H. | van Reeuwijk, Jeroen | Oud, Machteld M. | Letteboer, Stef J.F. | Roepman, Ronald | Husson, Hervé | Ibraghimov-Beskrovnaya, Oxana | Ysunaga, Takayuki | Walz, Gerd | Eley, Lorraine | Sayer, John A. | Schermer, Bernhard | Liebau, Max C. | Benzing, Thomas | Le Corre, Stephanie | Drummond, Iain | Joles, Jaap A. | Janssen, Sabine | Allen, Susan J. | Natarajan, Sivakumar | O Toole, John F. | Attanasio, Massimo | Saunier, Sophie | Antignac, Corinne | Koenekoop, Robert K. | Ren, Huanan | Lopez, Irma | Nayir, Ahmet | Stoetzel, Corinne | Dollfus, Helene | Massoudi, Rustin | Gleeson, Joseph G. | Andreoli, Sharon P. | Doherty, Dan G. | Lindstrad, Anna | Golzio, Christelle | Katsanis, Nicholas | Pape, Lars | Abboud, Emad B. | Al-Rajhi, Ali A. | Lewis, Richard A. | Lupski, James R. | Omran, Heymut | Lee, Eva | Wang, Shaohui | Sekiguchi, JoAnn M. | Saunders, Rudel | Johnson, Colin A. | Garner, Elizabeth | Vanselow, Katja | Andersen, Jens S. | Shlomai, Joseph | Nurnberg, Gudrun | Nurnberg, Peter | Levy, Shawn | Smogorzewska, Agata | Otto, Edgar A. | Hildebrandt, Friedhelm
Cell  2012;150(3):533-548.
SUMMARY
Nephronophthisis-related ciliopathies (NPHP-RC) are degenerative recessive diseases that affect kidney, retina and brain. Genetic defects in NPHP gene products that localize to cilia and centrosomes defined them as ‘ciliopathies’. However, disease mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we identify by whole exome resequencing, mutations of MRE11, ZNF423, and CEP164 as causing NPHP-RC. All three genes function within the DNA damage response (DDR) pathway, hitherto not implicated in ciliopathies. We demonstrate that, upon induced DNA damage, the NPHP-RC proteins ZNF423, CEP164 and NPHP10 colocalize to nuclear foci positive for TIP60, known to activate ATM at sites of DNA damage. We show that knockdown of CEP164 or ZNF423 causes sensitivity to DNA damaging agents, and that cep164 knockdown in zebrafish results in dysregulated DDR and an NPHP-RC phenotype. We identify TTBK2, CCDC92, NPHP3 and DVL3 as novel CEP164 interaction partners. Our findings link degenerative diseases of kidney and retina, disorders of increasing prevalence, to mechanisms of DDR.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2012.06.028
PMCID: PMC3433835  PMID: 22863007
8.  Active Transport and Diffusion Barriers Restrict Joubert Syndrome-Associated ARL13B/ARL-13 to an Inv-like Ciliary Membrane Subdomain 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(12):e1003977.
Cilia are microtubule-based cell appendages, serving motility, chemo-/mechano-/photo- sensation, and developmental signaling functions. Cilia are comprised of distinct structural and functional subregions including the basal body, transition zone (TZ) and inversin (Inv) compartments, and defects in this organelle are associated with an expanding spectrum of inherited disorders including Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS), Meckel-Gruber Syndrome (MKS), Joubert Syndrome (JS) and Nephronophthisis (NPHP). Despite major advances in understanding ciliary trafficking pathways such as intraflagellar transport (IFT), how proteins are transported to subciliary membranes remains poorly understood. Using Caenorhabditis elegans and mammalian cells, we investigated the transport mechanisms underlying compartmentalization of JS-associated ARL13B/ARL-13, which we previously found is restricted at proximal ciliary membranes. We now show evolutionary conservation of ARL13B/ARL-13 localisation to an Inv-like subciliary membrane compartment, excluding the TZ, in many C. elegans ciliated neurons and in a subset of mammalian ciliary subtypes. Compartmentalisation of C. elegans ARL-13 requires a C-terminal RVVP motif and membrane anchoring to prevent distal cilium and nuclear targeting, respectively. Quantitative imaging in more than 20 mutants revealed differential contributions for IFT and ciliopathy modules in defining the ARL-13 compartment; IFT-A/B, IFT-dynein and BBS genes prevent ARL-13 accumulation at periciliary membranes, whereas MKS/NPHP modules additionally inhibit ARL-13 association with TZ membranes. Furthermore, in vivo FRAP analyses revealed distinct roles for IFT and MKS/NPHP genes in regulating a TZ barrier to ARL-13 diffusion, and intraciliary ARL-13 diffusion. Finally, C. elegans ARL-13 undergoes IFT-like motility and quantitative protein complex analysis of human ARL13B identified functional associations with IFT-B complexes, mapped to IFT46 and IFT74 interactions. Together, these findings reveal distinct requirements for sequence motifs, IFT and ciliopathy modules in defining an ARL-13 subciliary membrane compartment. We conclude that MKS/NPHP modules comprise a TZ barrier to ARL-13 diffusion, whereas IFT genes predominantly facilitate ARL-13 ciliary entry and/or retention via active transport mechanisms.
Author Summary
Protruding from most cells surfaces is a hair-like extension called the primary cilium. This organelle functions as a cellular antenna, receiving physical and chemical signals such as light, odorants, and molecules that coordinate cell growth, differentiation and migration. Underscoring their importance, cilium defects underlie an expanding spectrum of diseases termed ciliopathies, characterised by wide-ranging symptoms such as cystic kidneys, blindness and bone abnormalities. A key question is how ciliary proteins are targeted to and retained within cilia. The best understood system is intraflagellar transport (IFT), thought to ferry proteins between the ciliary base and tip. Also, ciliopathy protein modules organise protein diffusion barriers at the ciliary base transition zone (TZ). Despite major advances, it remains poorly understood how proteins are targeted to cilia, and ciliary membrane subdomains in particular. Here, we investigated how Joubert syndrome-associated ARL13B/ARL-13 is compartmentalized at subciliary membranes. Using C. elegans nematodes and mammalian cell experimental systems, we uncovered differential requirements for sequence motifs, IFT and ciliopathy modules in regulating ARL-13 ciliary restriction, mobility and compartment length. Also, we provide essential insight into how IFT and ciliopathy-associated protein complexes and modules influence ciliary membrane protein transport, diffusion across the TZ, the integrity of the ciliary membrane, and subciliary protein composition.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003977
PMCID: PMC3854969  PMID: 24339792
9.  Interaction of ciliary disease protein retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator with nephronophthisis-associated proteins in mammalian retinas 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:1373-1381.
Purpose
Retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator (RPGR) is a cilia-centrosomal protein that frequently mutates in X-linked retinal degeneration and associated disorders. RPGR interacts with multiple ciliary proteins in the retina. Perturbations in the assembly of RPGR complexes are associated with retinal degeneration. This study was undertaken to delineate the composition and dissection of RPGR complexes in mammalian retinas.
Methods
Immunoprecipitation of RPGR from ciliary fraction of bovine retina was performed, followed by mass spectrometry analysis. The glutathione S-transferase pull-down assay was performed to validate the interaction. Immunodepletion experiments were performed to dissect the partitioning of RPGR in different protein complexes in mammalian retinas.
Results
We found that RPGR associates with a ciliary protein nephrocystin-4 (nephroretinin; NPHP4) that is mutated in nephronophthisis (NPH) and RP (Senior-Løken syndrome). This association is abolished in the Rpgr-knockout mouse retina. The RCC1-like domain of RPGR interacts with the N-terminal 316 amino acids of NPHP4. In the retina, RPGR also associates with NPHP1, an NPHP4-interacting protein; RPGR interacts directly with amino acids 243–586 of NPHP1. We further show that, in the retina, RPGR associates with and is partitioned in at least two different complexes with NPHP-associated proteins, (i) NPHP1, NPHP2, and NPHP5, and (ii) NPHP4, NPHP6, and NPHP8.
Conclusions
RPGR may regulate some complexes with NPHP proteins in the mammalian retina. The disruption of these complexes may contribute to the pathogenesis of retinal degeneration in X-linked RP and associated ciliary diseases.
PMCID: PMC2905641  PMID: 20664800
10.  Mutations in INVS encoding inversin cause nephronophthisis type 2, linking renal cystic disease to the function of primary cilia and left-right axis determination 
Nature genetics  2003;34(4):413-420.
Nephronophthisis (NPHP), an autosomal recessive cystic kidney disease, leads to chronic renal failure in children. The genes mutated in NPHP1 and NPHP4 have been identified, and a gene locus associated with infantile nephronophthisis (NPHP2) was mapped. The kidney phenotype of NPHP2 combines clinical features of NPHP and polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Here, we identify inversin (INVS) as the gene mutated in NPHP2 with and without situs inversus. We show molecular interaction of inversin with nephrocystin, the product of the gene mutated in NPHP1 and interaction of nephrocystin with β-tubulin, a main component of primary cilia. We show that nephrocystin, inversin and β-tubulin colocalize to primary cilia of renal tubular cells. Furthermore, we produce a PKD-like renal cystic phenotype and randomization of heart looping by knockdown of invs expression in zebrafish. The interaction and colocalization in cilia of inversin, nephrocystin and β-tubulin connect pathogenetic aspects of NPHP to PKD, to primary cilia function and to left-right axis determination.
doi:10.1038/ng1217
PMCID: PMC3732175  PMID: 12872123
11.  Nephrocystin-1 Forms a Complex with Polycystin-1 via a Polyproline Motif/SH3 Domain Interaction and Regulates the Apoptotic Response in Mammals 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12719.
Mutations in PKD1, the gene encoding for the receptor Polycystin-1 (PC-1), cause autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). The cytoplasmic C-terminus of PC-1 contains a coiled-coil domain that mediates an interaction with the PKD2 gene product, Polycystin-2 (PC-2). Here we identify a novel domain in the PC-1 C-terminal tail, a polyproline motif mediating an interaction with Src homology domain 3 (SH3). A screen for interactions using the PC-1 C-terminal tail identified the SH3 domain of nephrocystin-1 (NPHP1) as a potential binding partner of PC-1. NPHP1 is the product of a gene that is mutated in a different form of renal cystic disease, nephronophthisis (NPHP). We show that in vitro pull-down assays and NMR structural studies confirmed the interaction between the PC-1 polyproline motif and the NPHP1 SH3 domain. Furthermore, the two full-length proteins interact through these domains; using a recently generated model system allowing us to track endogenous PC-1, we confirm the interaction between the endogenous proteins. Finally, we show that NPHP1 trafficking to cilia does not require PC-1 and that PC-1 may require NPHP1 to regulate resistance to apoptosis, but not to regulate cell cycle progression. In line with this, we find high levels of apoptosis in renal specimens of NPHP patients. Our data uncover a link between two different ciliopathies, ADPKD and NPHP, supporting the notion that common pathogenetic defects, possibly involving de-regulated apoptosis, underlie renal cyst formation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012719
PMCID: PMC2939065  PMID: 20856870
12.  Genetic and physical interaction between the NPHP5 and NPHP6 gene products 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(23):3655-3662.
Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is an autosomal recessive cystic kidney disease, caused by mutations of at least nine different genes. Several extrarenal manifestations characterize this disorder, including cerebellar defects, situs inversus and retinitis pigmentosa. While the clinical manifestations vary significantly in NPHP, mutations of NPHP5 and NPHP6 are always associated with progressive blindness. This clinical finding suggests that the gene products, nephrocystin-5 and nephrocystin-6, participate in overlapping signaling pathways to maintain photoreceptor homeostasis. To analyze the genetic interaction between these two proteins in more detail, we studied zebrafish embryos after depletion of NPHP5 and NPHP6. Knockdown of zebrafish zNPHP5 and zNPHP6 produced similar phenotypes, and synergistic effects were observed after the combined knockdown of zNPHP5 and zNPHP6. The N-terminal domain of nephrocystin-6-bound nephrocystin-5, and mapping studies delineated the interacting site from amino acid 696 to 896 of NPHP6. In Xenopus laevis, knockdown of NPHP5 caused substantial neural tube closure defects. This phenotype was copied by expression of the nephrocystin-5-binding fragment of nephrocystin-6, and rescued by co-expression of nephrocystin-5, supporting a physical interaction between both gene products in vivo. Since the N- and C-terminal fragments of nephrocystin-6 engage in the formation of homo- and heteromeric protein complexes, conformational changes seem to regulate the interaction of nephrocystin-6 with its binding partners.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn260
PMCID: PMC2802281  PMID: 18723859
13.  ANKS6 is a central component of a nephronophthisis module linking NEK8 to INVS and NPHP3 
Nature genetics  2013;45(8):951-956.
Nephronophthisis (NPH) is an autosomal recessive cystic kidney disease that leads to renal failure in childhood or adolescence. Most NPHP gene products form molecular networks. We have identified ANKS6 as a new NPHP family member that connects NEK8 (NPHP9) to INVERSIN (INVS, NPHP2) and NPHP3 to form a distinct NPHP module. ANKS6 localizes to the proximal cilium and knockdown experiments in zebrafish and Xenopus confirmed a role in renal development. Genetic screening identified six families with ANKS6 mutations and NPH, including severe cardiovascular abnormalities, liver fibrosis and situs inversus. The oxygen sensor HIF1AN (FIH) hydroxylates ANKS6 and INVS, while knockdown of Hif1an in Xenopus resembled the loss of other NPHP proteins. HIF1AN altered the composition of the ANKS6/INVS/NPHP3 module. Network analyses, uncovering additional putative NPHP-associated genes, placed ANKS6 at the center of the NPHP module, explaining the overlapping disease manifestation caused by mutations of either ANKS6, NEK8, INVS or NPHP3.
doi:10.1038/ng.2681
PMCID: PMC3786259  PMID: 23793029
14.  Novel transglutaminase-like peptidase and C2 domains elucidate the structure, biogenesis and evolution of the ciliary compartment 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(20):3861-3875.
In addition to their role in motility, eukaryotic cilia serve as a distinct compartment for signal transduction and regulatory sequestration of biomolecules. Recent genetic and biochemical studies have revealed an extraordinary diversity of protein complexes involved in the biogenesis of cilia during each cell cycle. Mutations in components of these complexes are at the heart of human ciliopathies such as Nephronophthisis (NPHP), Meckel-Gruber syndrome (MKS), Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) and Joubert syndrome (JBTS). Despite intense studies, proteins in some of these complexes, such as the NPHP1-4-8 and the MKS, remain poorly understood. Using a combination of computational analyses we studied these complexes to identify novel domains in them which might throw new light on their functions and evolutionary origins. First, we identified both catalytically active and inactive versions of transglutaminase-like (TGL) peptidase domains in key ciliary/centrosomal proteins CC2D2A/MKS6, CC2D2B, CEP76 and CCDC135. These ciliary TGL domains appear to have originated from prokaryotic TGL domains that act as peptidases, either in a prokaryotic protein degradation system with the MoxR AAA+ ATPase, the precursor of eukaryotic dyneins and midasins, or in a peptide-ligase system with an ATP-grasp enzyme comparable to tubulin-modifying TTL proteins. We suggest that active ciliary TGL proteins are part of a cilia-specific peptidase system that might remove tubulin modifications or cleave cilia- localized proteins, while the inactive versions are likely to bind peptides and mediate key interactions during ciliogenesis. Second, we observe a vast radiation of C2 domains, which are key membrane-localization modules, in multiple ciliary proteins, including those from the NPHP1-4-8 and the MKS complexes, such as CC2D2A/MKS6, RPGRIP1, RPGRIP1L, NPHP1, NPHP4, C2CD3, AHI1/Jouberin and CEP76, most of which can be traced back to the last eukaryotic ancestor. Identification of these TGL and C2 domains aid in the proper reconstruction of the Y-shaped linkers, which are key structures in the transitional zone of cilia, by allowing precise prediction of the multiple membrane-contacting and protein-protein interaction sites in these structures. These findings help decipher key events in the evolutionary separation of the ciliary and nuclear compartments in course of the emergence of the eukaryotic cell.
doi:10.4161/cc.22068
PMCID: PMC3495828  PMID: 22983010
ciliogenesis; transglutaminase-like; membrane; tubulin-tyrosine ligase; C2; transition zone; Y-shaped linkers; evolution; origin of eukaryotes; ciliopathy
15.  MKS and NPHP modules cooperate to establish basal body/transition zone membrane associations and ciliary gate function during ciliogenesis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;192(6):1023-1041.
Eight proteins, defects in which are associated with Meckel-Gruber syndrome and nephronophthisis ciliopathies, work together as two functional modules at the transition zone to establish basal body/transition zone connections with the membrane and barricade entry of non-ciliary components into this organelle.
Meckel-Gruber syndrome (MKS), nephronophthisis (NPHP), and related ciliopathies present with overlapping phenotypes and display considerable allelism between at least twelve different genes of largely unexplained function. We demonstrate that the conserved C. elegans B9 domain (MKS-1, MKSR-1, and MKSR-2), MKS-3/TMEM67, MKS-5/RPGRIP1L, MKS-6/CC2D2A, NPHP-1, and NPHP-4 proteins exhibit essential, collective functions at the transition zone (TZ), an underappreciated region at the base of all cilia characterized by Y-shaped assemblages that link axoneme microtubules to surrounding membrane. These TZ proteins functionally interact as members of two distinct modules, which together contribute to an early ciliogenic event. Specifically, MKS/MKSR/NPHP proteins establish basal body/TZ membrane attachments before or coinciding with intraflagellar transport–dependent axoneme extension and subsequently restrict accumulation of nonciliary components within the ciliary compartment. Together, our findings uncover a unified role for eight TZ-localized proteins in basal body anchoring and establishing a ciliary gate during ciliogenesis, and suggest that disrupting ciliary gate function contributes to phenotypic features of the MKS/NPHP disease spectrum.
doi:10.1083/jcb.201012116
PMCID: PMC3063147  PMID: 21422230
16.  Genetic and physical interaction between the NPHP5 and NPHP6 gene products 
Human molecular genetics  2008;17(23):3655-3662.
Nephronophthisis is an autosomal recessive cystic kidney disease, caused by mutations of at least nine different genes. Several extrarenal manifestations characterize this disorder, including cerebellar defects, situs inversus, and retinitis pigmentosa. While the clinical manifestations vary significantly in nephronophthisis, mutations of NPHP5 and NPHP6 are always associated with progressive blindness. This clinical finding suggests that the gene products, nephrocystin-5 and nephrocystin-6, participate in overlapping signaling pathways to maintain photoreceptor homeostasis. To analyze the genetic interaction between these two proteins in more detail, we studied zebrafish embryos after depletion of NPHP5 and NPHP6. Knockdown of zebrafish zNPHP5 and zNPHP6 produced similar phenotypes, and synergistic effects were observed after the combined knockdown of zNPHP5 and zNPHP6. The N-terminal domain of nephrocystin-6 bound nephrocystin-5, and mapping studies delineated the interacting site to amino acid 696 to 896 of NPHP6. In Xenopus laevis, knockdown of NPHP5 caused substantial neural tube closure defects. This phenotype was copied by expression of the nephrocystin-5-binding fragment of nephrocystin-6, and rescued by co-expression of nephrocystin-5, supporting a physical interaction between both gene products in vivo. Since the N- and C-terminal fragments of nephrocystin-6 engage in the formation of homo- and heteromeric protein complexes, conformational changes seem to regulate the interaction of nephrocystin-6 with its binding partners.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn260
PMCID: PMC2802281  PMID: 18723859
17.  Assessing the pathogenic potential of human Nephronophthisis disease-associated NPHP-4 missense mutations in C. elegans 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(15):2942-2954.
A spectrum of complex oligogenic disorders called the ciliopathies have been connected to dysfunction of cilia. Among the ciliopathies are Nephronophthisis (NPHP), characterized by cystic kidney disease and retinal degeneration, and Meckel–Gruber syndrome (MKS), a gestational lethal condition with skeletal abnormalities, cystic kidneys and CNS malformation. Mutations in multiple genes have been identified in NPHP and MKS patients, and an unexpected finding has been that mutations within the same gene can cause either disorder. Further, there is minimal genotype–phenotype correlation and despite recessive inheritance, numerous patients were identified as having a single heterozygous mutation. This has made it difficult to determine the significance of these mutations on disease pathogenesis and led to the hypothesis that clinical presentation in an individual will be determined by genetic interactions between mutations in multiple cilia-related genes. Here we utilize Caenorhabditis elegans and cilia-associated behavioral and morphologic assays to evaluate the pathogenic potential of eight previously reported human NPHP4 missense mutations. We assess the impact of these mutations on C. elegans NPHP-4 function, localization and evaluate potential interactions with mutations in MKS complex genes, mksr-2 and mksr-1. Six out of eight nphp-4 mutations analyzed alter ciliary function, and three of these modify the severity of the phenotypes caused by disruption of mksr-2 and mksr-1. Collectively, our studies demonstrate the utility of C. elegans as a tool to assess the pathogenicity of mutations in ciliopathy genes and provide insights into the complex genetic interactions contributing to the diversity of phenotypes associated with cilia disorders.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddr198
PMCID: PMC3131040  PMID: 21546380
18.  The Caenorhabditis elegans nephrocystins act as global modifiers of cilium structure 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;180(5):973-988.
Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is the most common genetic cause of end-stage renal disease in children and young adults. In Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Caenorhabditis elegans, and mammals, the NPHP1 and NPHP4 gene products nephrocystin-1 and nephrocystin-4 localize to basal bodies or ciliary transition zones (TZs), but their function in this location remains unknown. We show here that loss of C. elegans NPHP-1 and NPHP-4 from TZs is tolerated in developing cilia but causes changes in localization of specific ciliary components and a broad range of subtle axonemal ultrastructural defects. In amphid channel cilia, nphp-4 mutations cause B tubule defects that further disrupt intraflagellar transport (IFT). We propose that NPHP-1 and NPHP-4 act globally at the TZ to regulate ciliary access of the IFT machinery, axonemal structural components, and signaling molecules, and that perturbing this balance results in cell type–specific phenotypes.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200707090
PMCID: PMC2265406  PMID: 18316409
19.  Nephronophthisis: Disease Mechanisms of a Ciliopathy 
Nephronophthisis (NPHP), a recessive cystic kidney disease, is the most frequent genetic cause of end-stage kidney disease in children and young adults. Positional cloning of nine genes (NPHP1-9) and functional characterization of their encoded proteins (nephrocystins) has contributed to a unifying theory that defines cystic kidney diseases as “ciliopathies”. The theory is based on the finding that all proteins mutated in cystic kidney diseases of humans or animal models are expressed in primary cilia or centrosomes of renal epithelial cells. Primary cilia are sensory organelles that connect mechanosensory, visual, and other stimuli to mechanisms of epithelial cell polarity and cell cycle control. Mutations in NPHP genes cause defects in signaling mechanisms that involve the non-canonical Wnt signaling pathway and the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway, resulting in defects of planar cell polarity and tissue maintenance. The ciliary theory explains the multiple organ involvement in NPHP, which includes retinal degeneration, cerebellar hypoplasia, liver fibrosis, situs inversus, and mental retardation. Positional cloning of dozens of unknown genes that cause NPHP will elucidate further signaling mechanisms involved. Nephrocystins are highly conserved in evolution, thus allowing the use of animal models to develop future therapeutic approaches.
doi:10.1681/ASN.2008050456
PMCID: PMC2807379  PMID: 19118152
nephronophthisis; cystic kidney disease; planar cell polarity; wnt signaling; hedgehog signaling; ciliopathies
20.  The nphp-2 and arl-13 Genetic Modules Interact to Regulate Ciliogenesis and Ciliary Microtubule Patterning in C. elegans 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(12):e1004866.
Cilia are microtubule-based cellular organelles that mediate signal transduction. Cilia are organized into several structurally and functionally distinct compartments: the basal body, the transition zone (TZ), and the cilia shaft. In vertebrates, the cystoprotein Inversin localizes to a portion of the cilia shaft adjacent to the TZ, a region termed the “Inversin compartment” (InvC). The mechanisms that establish and maintain the InvC are unknown. In the roundworm C. elegans, the cilia shafts of amphid channel and phasmid sensory cilia are subdivided into two regions defined by different microtubule ultrastructure: a proximal doublet-based region adjacent to the TZ, and a distal singlet-based region. It has been suggested that C. elegans cilia also possess an InvC, similarly to mammalian primary cilia. Here we explored the biogenesis, structure, and composition of the C. elegans ciliary doublet region and InvC. We show that the InvC is conserved and distinct from the doublet region. nphp-2 (the C. elegans Inversin homolog) and the doublet region genes arl-13, klp-11, and unc-119 are redundantly required for ciliogenesis. InvC and doublet region genes can be sorted into two modules—nphp-2+klp-11 and arl-13+unc-119—which are both antagonized by the hdac-6 deacetylase. The genes of this network modulate the sizes of the NPHP-2 InvC and ARL-13 doublet region. Glutamylation, a tubulin post-translational modification, is not required for ciliary targeting of InvC and doublet region components; rather, glutamylation is modulated by nphp-2, arl-13, and unc-119. The ciliary targeting and restricted localization of NPHP-2, ARL-13, and UNC-119 does not require TZ-, doublet region, and InvC-associated genes. NPHP-2 does require its calcium binding EF hand domain for targeting to the InvC. We conclude that the C. elegans InvC is distinct from the doublet region, and that components in these two regions interact to regulate ciliogenesis via cilia placement, ciliary microtubule ultrastructure, and protein localization.
Author Summary
Cilia are sensory organelles that are found on most types of human cells and play essential roles in diverse processes ranging from vision and olfaction to embryonic symmetry breaking and kidney development. Individual cilia are divided into multiple functionally and compositionally distinct compartments, including a proximal “Inversin” compartment, which is located near the base of cilia. We used the nematode C. elegans, a well-defined animal model of cilia biology, to characterize the genetics, components, and defining properties of the proximal cilium. The Inversin compartment is conserved in C. elegans, and is established independent of another proximal ciliary region, the microtubule doublet-based region. We showed how components of both the doublet region and the Inversin compartment genetically interact to regulate many pathways linked to core aspects of cilia biology, including ciliogenesis, cilia placement, cilia ultrastructure, microtubule stability, and the protein composition of ciliary compartments. In addition to expanding and clarifying our knowledge of basic cilia biology, these results also have direct implications for human health research because several of the genes and pathways explored in our work are linked to ciliopathies, a group of diseases caused by dysfunctional cilia.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004866
PMCID: PMC4263411  PMID: 25501555
21.  Clinical Characterization and NPHP1 Mutations in Nephronophthisis and Associated Ciliopathies: A Single Center Experience 
Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is a recessive disorder of the kidney that is the leading genetic cause of end-stage renal failure in children. Egypt is a country with a high rate of consanguineous marriages; yet, only a few studies have investigated the clinical and molecular characteristics of NPHP and related ciliopathies in the Egyptian population. We studied 20 children, from 17 independent families, fulfilling the clinical and the ultrasonographic criteria of NPHP. Analysis for a homozygous deletion of the NPHP1 gene was performed by polymerase chain reaction on the genomic DNA of all patients. Patients were best categorized as 75% juvenile NPHP, 5% infantile NPHP, and 20% Joubert syndrome-related disorders (JSRD). The mean age at diagnosis was 87.5 + 45.4 months, which was significantly late as compared with the age at onset of symptoms, 43.8 ± 29.7 months (P <0.01). Homozygous NPHP1 deletions were detected in six patients from five of 17 (29.4%) studied families. Our study demonstrates the clinical phenotype of NPHP and related disorders in Egyptian children. Also, we report that homozygous NPHP1 deletions account for 29.4% of NPHP in the studied families in this cohort, thereby confir-ming the diagnosis of type-1 NPHP. Moreover, our findings confirm that NPHP1 deletions can indeed be responsible for JSRD.
doi:10.4103/1319-2442.100968
PMCID: PMC4154542  PMID: 22982934
22.  CSPP Is a Ciliary Protein Interacting with Nephrocystin 8 and Required for Cilia Formation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(15):2555-2567.
CSPP and CSPP-L are centrosomal proteins of known mitotic function. Here, we identify CSPP proteins as ciliary proteins and place them into a NPHP protein network crucial for normal cilia-dependent renal and retinal tissue architecture. Importantly, CSPP-L is found to be required for ciliogenesis and shown to be a cilia length modulator.
We described previously the cell cycle- and microtubule-related functions of two splice isoforms of the centrosome spindle pole-associated protein (CSPP and CSPP-L). Here, we show that endogenous CSPP isoforms not only localize to centrosomes and the midbody in cycling cells but also extend to the cilia axoneme in postmitotic resting cells. They are required for ciliogenesis in hTERT-RPE1 cells in vitro and are expressed in ciliated renal, retinal, and respiratory cells in vivo. We report that CSPP isoforms require their common C-terminal domain to interact with Nephrocystin 8 (NPHP8/RPGRIP1L) and to form a ternary complex with NPHP8 and NPHP4. We find CSPP-L to be required for the efficient localization of NPHP8 but not NPHP4 to the basal body. The ciliogenesis defect in hTERT-RPE1 cells is, however, not mediated through loss of NPHP8. Similar to the effects of ectopical expression of CSPP-L, cilia length increased in NPHP8-depleted cells. Our results thus suggest that CSPP proteins may be involved in further cytoskeletal organization of the basal body and its primary cilium. To conclude, we have identified a novel, nonmitotic function of CSPP proteins placing them into a ciliary protein network crucial for normal renal and retinal tissue architecture and physiology.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E09-06-0503
PMCID: PMC2912343  PMID: 20519441
23.  Nephronophthisis 
Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is an autosomal recessive cystic kidney disease, which represents the most frequent genetic cause for end-stage renal disease up to the third decade of life. Nephronophthisis is caused by mutations in eleven different genes called nephrocystins (NPHP1-11, NPHP1L). With an increasing number of identified genes our knowledge of nephronophthisis is changing and improving our understanding of the pathomechanisms in nephronophthisis. Recent publications described ciliary expression of nephrocystins together with other cystoproteins like polycystins 1 and 2, and fibrocystin. These findings have shifted our focus to a pathomechanism involving defects in ciliary function (ciliopathy) and planar cell polarity (PCP). In addition, discoveries of new nephrocystin genes have shown that the disease spectrum of nephronophthisis is much broader than previously anticipated. Different forms of mutations within the same NPHP gene can cause different disease severity. In this review we will highlighten the different hypotheses concerning the pathomechanisms for nephronophthisis and we will underline the clinical variability of nephronophthisis. The clinical spectrum has become even more complex with the possibility of oligogenicity in NPHP.
doi:10.1007/s00467-010-1585-z
PMCID: PMC4160028  PMID: 20652329
nephronophthisis; cystic kidney disease; ciliopathy; Senior-Loken syndrome; Joubert syndrome; Meckel-Gruber syndrome; molecular genetics
24.  Mitochondrial Aminopeptidase Deletion Increases Chronological Lifespan and Oxidative Stress Resistance while Decreasing Respiratory Metabolism in S. cerevisiae 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77234.
Recessive mutations in XPNPEP3, encoding a mitochondrial x-prolyl aminopeptidase, have been identified in families with a rare hereditary tubulointerstitial kidney disease. The yeast ortholog of XPNPEP3, Icp55p, participates in the proteolytic processing and stabilization of mitochondrial proteins and its deletion accelerates the degradation of its protein targets. We used icp55 deletion strains of S. cerevisiae to model loss of XPNPEP3 enzymatic function and study its phenotypic consequences on mitochondrial function. We found that Icp55p is not required for respiratory competence; however, compared to controls deletion strains had reduced mitochondrial oxygen consumption when grown in glucose containing media. The reduced mitochondrial respiration of icp55 deletion strains in glucose media requires the mitochondrial peptide transporter, Mdl1p, and was corrected by Tor1p inhibition with rapamycin. Under similar growth conditions the abundance of the mitochondrial ATP synthase complex was decreased in the icp55 deletion strain and was corrected by concurrent deletion of tor1. The icp55 deletion strain demonstrated an increased chronological lifespan and decreased reactive oxygen species. These changes were additive to similar changes known to occur in tor1 deletion strains suggesting independent mechanisms. Together, these results demonstrate that loss of Icp55p function reduces mitochondrial oxygen consumption and ATP synthase complex assembly in glucose media, while also promoting stress resistance, decreasing reactive oxygen species and increasing chronological lifespan through mechanisms that are distinct from decreased Tor1p activity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077234
PMCID: PMC3792884  PMID: 24116217
25.  A novel mutation causing nephronophthisis in the Lewis polycystic kidney rat localises to a conserved RCC1 domain in Nek8 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:393.
Background
Nephronophthisis (NPHP) as a cause of cystic kidney disease is the most common genetic cause of progressive renal failure in children and young adults. NPHP is characterized by abnormal and/or loss of function of proteins associated with primary cilia. Previously, we characterized an autosomal recessive phenotype of cystic kidney disease in the Lewis Polycystic Kidney (LPK) rat.
Results
In this study, quantitative trait locus analysis was used to define a ~1.6Mbp region on rat chromosome 10q25 harbouring the lpk mutation. Targeted genome capture and next-generation sequencing of this region identified a non-synonymous mutation R650C in the NIMA (never in mitosis gene a)- related kinase 8 ( Nek8) gene. This is a novel Nek8 mutation that occurs within the regulator of chromosome condensation 1 (RCC1)-like region of the protein. Specifically, the R650C substitution is located within a G[QRC]LG repeat motif of the predicted seven bladed beta-propeller structure of the RCC1 domain. The rat Nek8 gene is located in a region syntenic to portions of human chromosome 17 and mouse 11. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed abnormally long cilia on LPK kidney epithelial cells, and fluorescence immunohistochemistry for Nek8 protein revealed altered cilia localisation.
Conclusions
When assessed relative to other Nek8 NPHP mutations, our results indicate the whole propeller structure of the RCC1 domain is important, as the different mutations cause comparable phenotypes. This study establishes the LPK rat as a novel model system for NPHP and further consolidates the link between cystic kidney disease and cilia proteins.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-393
PMCID: PMC3441220  PMID: 22899815
Cilia; Directed next generation sequencing; Electron microscopy; Genome capture; Immunohistochemistry; Nek8; NPHP; Polycystic kidney disease

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