Retrograde intraflagellar transport mutants identify complex A proteins with multiple genetic interactions in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Genetics. 2009 Nov;183(3):885-96. doi: 10.1534/genetics.109.101915. Epub 2009 Aug 31.


The intraflagellar transport machinery is required for the assembly of cilia. It has been investigated by biochemical, genetic, and computational methods that have identified at least 21 proteins that assemble into two subcomplexes. It has been hypothesized that complex A is required for retrograde transport. Temperature-sensitive mutations in FLA15 and FLA17 show defects in retrograde intraflagellar transport (IFT) in Chlamydomonas. We show that IFT144 and IFT139, two complex A proteins, are encoded by FLA15 and FLA17, respectively. The fla15 allele is a missense mutation in a conserved cysteine and the fla17 allele is an in-frame deletion of three exons. The flagellar assembly defect of each mutant is rescued by the respective transgenes. In fla15 and fla17 mutants, bulges form in the distal one-third of the flagella at the permissive temperature and this phenotype is also rescued by the transgenes. These bulges contain the complex B component IFT74/72, but not alpha-tubulin or p28, a component of an inner dynein arm, which suggests specificity with respect to the proteins that accumulate in these bulges. IFT144 and IFT139 are likely to interact with each other and other proteins on the basis of three distinct genetic tests: (1) Double mutants display synthetic flagellar assembly defects at the permissive temperature, (2) heterozygous diploid strains exhibit second-site noncomplemention, and (3) transgenes confer two-copy suppression. Since these tests show different levels of phenotypic sensitivity, we propose they illustrate different gradations of gene interaction between complex A proteins themselves and with a complex B protein (IFT172).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algal Proteins / genetics*
  • Algal Proteins / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics*
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Flagella / metabolism*
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Immunoblotting
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics*
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Temperature


  • Algal Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins