Two anterograde intraflagellar transport motors cooperate to build sensory cilia on C. elegans neurons

Nat Cell Biol. 2004 Nov;6(11):1109-13. doi: 10.1038/ncb1186. Epub 2004 Oct 17.


Cilia have diverse roles in motility and sensory reception and their dysfunction contributes to cilia-related diseases. Assembly and maintenance of cilia depends on the intraflagellar transport (IFT) of axoneme, membrane, matrix and signalling proteins to appropriate destinations within the organelle. In the current model, these diverse cargo proteins bind to multiple sites on macromolecular IFT particles, which are moved by a single anterograde IFT motor, kinesin-II, from the ciliary base to its distal tip, where cargo-unloading occurs. Here, we describe the observation of fluorescent IFT motors and IFT particles moving along distinct domains within sensory cilia of wild-type and IFT-motor-mutant Caenorhabditis elegans. We show that two anterograde IFT motor holoenzymes, kinesin-II and Osm-3-kinesin, cooperate in a surprising way to control two pathways of IFT that build distinct parts of cilia. Instead of each motor independently moving its own specific cargo to a distinct destination, the two motors function redundantly to transport IFT particles along doublet microtubules adjacent to the transition zone to form the axoneme middle segment. Next, Osm-3-kinesin alone transports IFT particles along the distal singlet microtubules to stabilize the distal segment. Thus, the subtle coordinate activity of these IFT motors creates two sequential transport pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / anatomy & histology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Neurons / physiology*