Mutations in ATR(ataxia telangiectasia and RAD3-related) cause Seckel syndrome (ATR-SS), a microcephalic primordial dwarfism disorder. Hitherto, the clinical manifestation of ATR deficiency has been attributed to its canonical role in DNA damage response signalling following replication fork stalling/collapse. Here, we show that ATR regulates cilia-dependent signalling in a manner that can be uncoupled from its function during replication. ATR-depleted or patient-derived ATR-SS cells form cilia of slightly reduced length but are dramatically impaired in cilia-dependent signalling functions, including growth factor and Sonic hedgehog signalling. To better understand the developmental impact of ATR loss of function, we also used zebrafish as a model. Zebrafish embryos depleted of Atr resembled ATR-SS morphology, showed a modest but statistically significant reduction in cilia length and other morphological features indicative of cilia dysfunction. Additionally, they displayed defects in left-right asymmetry including ambiguous expression of southpaw, incorrectly looped hearts and randomized localization of internal organs including the pancreas, features typically conferred by cilia dysfunction. Our findings reveal a novel role for ATR in cilia signalling distinct from its canonical function during replication and strengthen emerging links between cilia function and development.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press.