Architecture and function of IFT complex proteins in ciliogenesis

Differentiation. 2012 Feb;83(2):S12-22. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2011.11.001. Epub 2011 Nov 25.


Cilia and flagella (interchangeable terms) are evolutionarily conserved organelles found on many different types of eukaryotic cells where they fulfill important functions in motility, sensory reception and signaling. The process of Intraflagellar Transport (IFT) is of central importance for both the assembly and maintenance of cilia, as it delivers building blocks from their site of synthesis in the cell body to the ciliary assembly site at the tip of the cilium. A key player in this process is the multi-subunit IFT-complex, which acts as an adapter between the motor proteins required for movement and the ciliary cargo proteins. Since the discovery of IFT more than 15 years ago, considerable effort has gone into the purification and characterization of the IFT complex proteins. Even though this has led to very interesting findings and has greatly improved our knowledge of the IFT process, we still know very little about the overall architecture of the IFT complex and the specific functions of the various subunits. In this review we will give an update on the knowledge of the structure and function of individual IFT proteins, and the way these proteins interact to form the complex that facilitates IFT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cilia / chemistry
  • Cilia / metabolism
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Ciliary Motility Disorders / pathology
  • Computational Biology
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / chemistry
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Multimerization


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins