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1.  An Essential Role for DYF-11/MIP-T3 in Assembling Functional Intraflagellar Transport Complexes 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(3):e1000044.
MIP-T3 is a human protein found previously to associate with microtubules and the kinesin-interacting neuronal protein DISC1 (Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia 1), but whose cellular function(s) remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that the C. elegans MIP-T3 ortholog DYF-11 is an intraflagellar transport (IFT) protein that plays a critical role in assembling functional kinesin motor-IFT particle complexes. We have cloned a loss of function dyf-11 mutant in which several key components of the IFT machinery, including Kinesin-II, as well as IFT subcomplex A and B proteins, fail to enter ciliary axonemes and/or mislocalize, resulting in compromised ciliary structures and sensory functions, and abnormal lipid accumulation. Analyses in different mutant backgrounds further suggest that DYF-11 functions as a novel component of IFT subcomplex B. Consistent with an evolutionarily conserved cilia-associated role, mammalian MIP-T3 localizes to basal bodies and cilia, and zebrafish mipt3 functions synergistically with the Bardet-Biedl syndrome protein Bbs4 to ensure proper gastrulation, a key cilium- and basal body-dependent developmental process. Our findings therefore implicate MIP-T3 in a previously unknown but critical role in cilium biogenesis and further highlight the emerging role of this organelle in vertebrate development.
Author Summary
The transport of protein complexes and associated cargo along microtubule tracks represents an essential eukaryotic process responsible for a multitude of cellular functions, including cell division, vesicle movement to membranes, and trafficking along dendrites, axons, and cilia. The latter organelles are hair-like cellular appendages implicated in cell and fluid motility, sensing and transducing information from their environment, and development. Their biogenesis and maintenance depends on a kinesin- and dynein-mediated motility process termed intraflagellar transport (IFT). In addition to comprising these specialized molecular motors, the IFT machinery consists of large multisubunit complexes whose exact composition and organization has not been fully defined. Here we identify a protein, DYF-11/MIP-T3, that is conserved in all ciliated organisms and is associated with IFT in C. elegans. Disruption of C. elegans DYF-11 results in structurally compromised cilia, likely as a result of IFT motor and subunit misassembly. Animals lacking DYF-11 display chemosensory anomalies, consistent with a role for the protein in cilia-associated sensory processes. In zebrafish, MIP-T3 is essential for gastrulation movements during development, similar to that observed for other ciliary components, including Bardet-Biedl syndrome proteins. In conclusion, we have identified a novel IFT machinery component that is also essential for development in vertebrates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000044
PMCID: PMC2268012  PMID: 18369462
2.  Mutations in a Guanylate Cyclase GCY-35/GCY-36 Modify Bardet-Biedl Syndrome–Associated Phenotypes in Caenorhabditis elegans 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002335.
Ciliopathies are pleiotropic and genetically heterogeneous disorders caused by defective development and function of the primary cilium. Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) proteins localize to the base of cilia and undergo intraflagellar transport, and the loss of their functions leads to a multisystemic ciliopathy. Here we report the identification of mutations in guanylate cyclases (GCYs) as modifiers of Caenorhabditis elegans bbs endophenotypes. The loss of GCY-35 or GCY-36 results in suppression of the small body size, developmental delay, and exploration defects exhibited by multiple bbs mutants. Moreover, an effector of cGMP signalling, a cGMP-dependent protein kinase, EGL-4, also modifies bbs mutant defects. We propose that a misregulation of cGMP signalling, which underlies developmental and some behavioural defects of C. elegans bbs mutants, may also contribute to some BBS features in other organisms.
Author Summary
Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) is a genetically heterogeneous, multisystemic disorder. Defects to the cilium, an evolutionarily conserved organelle, cause ciliopathies, a growing class of diseases that includes BBS. BBS proteins are involved in the vesicular transport of proteins to the cilium and in the process of intraflagellar transport. Here we show that, in addition to sensory defects, Caenorhabditis elegans bbs mutants exhibit reduced body size and delayed developmental timing. The reduced body size phenotype is not fully recapitulated by IFT mutants, suggesting that BBS proteins may have additional functions beyond bridging IFT motors. We further identified that the loss of function mutations in the soluble guanylate cyclase complex, GCY-35/GCY-36, results in a suppression of these defects. Interestingly, GCY-35/GCY-36 influences the body size through a cGMP-dependent protein kinase EGL-4 in a group of body cavity neurons. BBS proteins, on the other hand, function through a non-overlapping set of ciliated sensory neurons to influence cGMP signalling in the body cavity neurons. In conclusion, this study reveals a non-cell autonomous role for sensory cilia in regulating cGMP signalling during development. We propose that aberrant cGMP signalling, essential for a number of cellular processes, may also contribute to some ciliopathy features in other systems.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002335
PMCID: PMC3192831  PMID: 22022287

Results 1-2 (2)