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1.  Katanin Knockdown Supports a Role for Microtubule Severing in Release of Basal Bodies before Mitosis in Chlamydomonas 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(1):379-388.
Katanin is a microtubule-severing protein that participates in the regulation of cell cycle progression and in ciliary disassembly, but its precise role is not known for either activity. Our data suggest that in Chlamydomonas, katanin severs doublet microtubules at the proximal end of the flagellar transition zone, allowing disengagement of the basal body from the flagellum before mitosis. Using an RNA interference approach we have discovered that severe knockdown of the p60 subunit of katanin, KAT1, is achieved only in cells that also carry secondary mutations that disrupt ciliogenesis. Importantly, we observed that cells in the process of cell cycle-induced flagellar resorption sever the flagella from the basal bodies before resorption is complete, and we find that this process is defective in KAT1 knockdown cells.
PMCID: PMC2613114  PMID: 19005222
2.  Cilia and the cell cycle? 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;169(5):707-710.
A recent convergence of data indicating a relationship between cilia and proliferative diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease, has revived the long-standing enigma of the reciprocal regulatory relationship between cilia and the cell cycle. Multiple signaling pathways are localized to cilia in mammalian cells, and some proteins have been shown to act both in the cilium and in cell cycle regulation. Work from the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas is providing novel insights as to how cilia and the cell cycle are coordinately regulated.
PMCID: PMC2171619  PMID: 15928206
3.  Centrioles are freed from cilia by severing prior to mitosis 
Cytoskeleton (Hoboken, N.J.)  2010;67(7):425-430.
Cilia are necessary for normal tissue development and homeostasis and are generally present during interphase, but not in mitosis. The precise mechanism of pre-mitotic ciliary loss has been controversial, with data supporting either sequential disassembly through the transition zone or, alternatively, a severing event at the base of the cilia. Here we show by live cell imaging and immunofluoresence microscopy that resorbing flagella of Chlamydomonas leave remnants associated with the mother cell wall. We postulated that the remnants are the product of severing of doublet microtubules between the basal bodies and the flagellar transition zone, thereby freeing the centrioles to participate in spindle organization. We show via TEM that flagellar remnants are indeed flagellar transition zones encased in vesicles derived from the flagellar membrane. This transition zone vesicle can be lodged within the cell wall or it can be expelled into the environment. This process is observable in Chlamydomonas, first because the released flagellar remnants can remain associated with the cell by virtue of attachments to the cell wall, and second because the Chlamydomonas transition zone is particularly rich with electron-dense structure. However, release of basal bodies for spindle-associated function is likely to be conserved among the eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC2897710  PMID: 20506243
flagellar transition zone; live cell imaging; electron microscopy; katanin; basal bodies
5.  Individuals with mutations in XPNPEP3, which encodes a mitochondrial protein, develop a nephronophthisis-like nephropathy  
The autosomal recessive kidney disease nephronophthisis (NPHP) constitutes the most frequent genetic cause of terminal renal failure in the first 3 decades of life. Ten causative genes (NPHP1–NPHP9 and NPHP11), whose products localize to the primary cilia-centrosome complex, support the unifying concept that cystic kidney diseases are “ciliopathies”. Using genome-wide homozygosity mapping, we report here what we believe to be a new locus (NPHP-like 1 [NPHPL1]) for an NPHP-like nephropathy. In 2 families with an NPHP-like phenotype, we detected homozygous frameshift and splice-site mutations, respectively, in the X-prolyl aminopeptidase 3 (XPNPEP3) gene. In contrast to all known NPHP proteins, XPNPEP3 localizes to mitochondria of renal cells. However, in vivo analyses also revealed a likely cilia-related function; suppression of zebrafish xpnpep3 phenocopied the developmental phenotypes of ciliopathy morphants, and this effect was rescued by human XPNPEP3 that was devoid of a mitochondrial localization signal. Consistent with a role for XPNPEP3 in ciliary function, several ciliary cystogenic proteins were found to be XPNPEP3 substrates, for which resistance to N-terminal proline cleavage resulted in attenuated protein function in vivo in zebrafish. Our data highlight an emerging link between mitochondria and ciliary dysfunction, and suggest that further understanding the enzymatic activity and substrates of XPNPEP3 will illuminate novel cystogenic pathways.
PMCID: PMC2827951  PMID: 20179356
6.  The NIMA-family kinase, Nek1 affects the stability of centrosomes and ciliogenesis 
BMC Cell Biology  2008;9:29.
Mutations in Nek1 (NIMA-Related Kinase 1) are causal in the murine models of polycystic kidney disease kat and kat2J. The Neks are known as cell cycle kinases, but recent work in protists has revealed that in addition to roles in the regulation of cell cycle progression, some Neks also regulate cilia. In most cells, cilia are disassembled prior to mitosis and are regenerated after cytokinesis. We propose that Neks participate in the coordination of ciliogenesis with cell cycle progression. Mammalian Nek1 is a candidate for this activity because renal cysts form in response to dysfunctional ciliary signalling.
Here we report that over-expression of full-length mNek1 inhibited ciliogenesis without disrupting centrosomes in the murine renal epithelial cell line IMCD3. In contrast, over-expression of the kinase domain with its associated basic region, but without the acidic domain, caused loss of centrosomes. As expected, these cells also failed to grow cilia. Both defective ciliogenesis in response to too much mNek1 and disassembly of centrosomes in response to expression of the kinase lacking the presumptive regulatory domain was abrogated by kinase-inactivating mutations or by removal of the coiled-coil domain. We observed that kinase-inactive, C-terminal truncations of mNek1 retaining the coiled-coil domain localized to the cilium, and we define a ciliary targeting region within the coiled-coil domain.
Based on our data, we propose that Nek1 plays a role in centrosome integrity, affecting both ciliogenesis and centrosome stability.
PMCID: PMC2442590  PMID: 18533026
7.  Phylogenetic Analysis of the Neks Reveals Early Diversification of Ciliary-Cell Cycle Kinases 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(10):e1076.
NIMA-related kinases (Neks) have been studied in diverse eukaryotes, including the fungus Aspergillus and the ciliate Tetrahymena. In the former, a single Nek plays an essential role in cell cycle regulation; in the latter, which has more than 30 Neks in its genome, multiple Neks regulate ciliary length. Mammalian genomes encode an intermediate number of Neks, several of which are reported to play roles in cell cycle regulation and/or localize to centrosomes. Previously, we reported that organisms with cilia typically have more Neks than organisms without cilia, but were unable to establish the evolutionary history of the gene family.
Methodology/Principle Findings
We have performed a large-scale analysis of the Nek family using Bayesian techniques, including tests of alternate topologies. We find that the Nek family had already expanded in the last common ancestor of eukaryotes, a ciliated cell which likely expressed at least five Neks. We suggest that Neks played an important role in the common ancestor in regulating cilia, centrioles, and centrosomes with respect to mitotic entry, and that this role continues today in organisms with cilia. Organisms that lack cilia generally show a reduction in the number of Nek clades represented, sometimes associated with lineage specific expansion of a single clade, as has occurred in the plants.
This is the first rigorous phylogenetic analysis of a kinase family across a broad array of phyla. Our findings provide a coherent framework for the study of Neks and their roles in coordinating cilia and cell cycle progression.
PMCID: PMC2031824  PMID: 17957258
8.  A NIMA-related Kinase, Fa2p, Localizes to a Novel Site in the Proximal Cilia of Chlamydomonas and Mouse Kidney Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(11):5172-5186.
Polycystic kidney disease and related syndromes involve dysregulation of cell proliferation in conjunction with ciliary defects. The relationship between cilia and cell cycle is enigmatic, but it may involve regulation by the NIMA-family of kinases (Neks). We previously showed that the Nek Fa2p is important for ciliary function and cell cycle in Chlamydomonas. We now show that Fa2p localizes to an important regulatory site at the proximal end of cilia in both Chlamydomonas and a mouse kidney cell line. Fa2p also is associated with the proximal end of centrioles. Its localization is dynamic during the cell cycle, following a similar pattern in both cell types. The cell cycle function of Fa2p is kinase independent, whereas its ciliary function is kinase dependent. Mice with mutations in Nek1 or Nek8 have cystic kidneys; therefore, our discovery that a member of this phylogenetic group of Nek proteins is localized to the same sites in Chlamydomonas and kidney epithelial cells suggests that Neks play conserved roles in the coordination of cilia and cell cycle progression.
PMCID: PMC524795  PMID: 15371535
9.  A Role for Katanin-mediated Axonemal Severing during Chlamydomonas Deflagellation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1998;9(5):1195-1207.
Deflagellation of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and other flagellated and ciliated cells, is a highly specific process that involves signal-induced severing of the outer doublet microtubules at a precise site in the transition region between the axoneme and basal body. Although the machinery of deflagellation is activated by Ca2+, the mechanism of microtubule severing is unknown. Severing of singlet microtubules has been observed in vitro to be catalyzed by katanin, a heterodimeric adenosine triphosphatase that can remove tubulin subunits from the walls of stable microtubules. We found that purified katanin induced an ATP-dependent severing of the Chlamydomonas axoneme. Using Western blot analysis and indirect immunofluorescence, we demonstrate that Chlamydomonas expresses a protein that is recognized by an anti-human katanin antibody and that this protein is localized, at least in part, to the basal body complex. Using an in vitro severing assay, we show that the protein(s) responsible for Ca2+-activated outer doublet severing purify with the flagellar-basal body complex. Furthermore, deflagellation of purified flagellar-basal body complexes is significantly blocked by the anti-katanin antibody. Taken together, these data suggest that a katanin-like mechanism may mediate the severing of the outer doublet microtubules during Chlamydomonas deflagellation.
PMCID: PMC25341  PMID: 9571249

Results 1-9 (9)