Tumor necrosis factor alpha receptor 3 interacting protein 1 (Traf3ip1), also known as MIPT3, was initially characterized through its interactions with tubulin, actin, TNFR-associated factor-3 (Traf3), IL-13R1, and DISC1. It functions as an inhibitor of IL-13-mediated phosphorylation of Stat6 and in sequestration of Traf3 and DISC1 to the cytoskeleton. Studies of the Traf3ip1 homologs in C. elegans (DYF-11), Zebrafish (elipsa), and Chlamydomonas (IFT54) revealed that the protein localizes to the cilium and is required for ciliogenesis. Similar localization data has now been reported for mammalian Traf3ip1. This raises the possibility that Traf3ip1 has an evolutionarily conserved role in mammalian ciliogenesis in addition to its previously indicated functions. To evaluate this possibility, a Traf3ip1 mutant mouse line was generated. Traf3ip1 mutant cells are unable to form cilia. Homozygous Traf3ip1 mutant mice are not viable and have both neural developmental defects and polydactyly, phenotypes typical of mouse mutants with ciliary assembly defects. Furthermore, in Traf3ip1 mutants the hedgehog pathway is disrupted, as evidenced by abnormal dorsal-ventral neural tube patterning and diminished expression of a hedgehog reporter. Analysis of the canonical Wnt pathway indicates that it was largely unaffected; however, specific domains in the pharyngeal arches have elevated levels of reporter activity. Interestingly, Traf3ip1 mutant embryos and cells failed to show alterations in IL-13 signaling, one of the pathways associated with its initial discovery. Novel phenotypes observed in Traf3ip1 mutant cells include elevated cytosolic levels of acetylated microtubules and a marked increase in cell size in culture. The enlarged Traf3ip1 mutant cell size was associated with elevated basal mTor pathway activity. Taken together, these data demonstrate that Traf3ip1 function is highly conserved in ciliogenesis and is important for proper regulation of a number of essential developmental and cellular pathways. The Traf3ip1 mutant mouse and cell lines will provide valuable resources to assess cilia function in mammalian development and also serve as a tool to explore the potential connections between cilia and cytoskeletal dynamics, mTor regulation, and cell volume control.
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