Cilia and flagella are microtubule-based organelles whose assembly requires a motile process, known as intraflagellar transport (IFT), to bring tubulin and other components to the distal tip of the growing structure. The IFT system uses a multiprotein complex with components that appear to be specialized for the transport of different sets of cargo proteins. The mechanisms by which cargo is selected for ciliary import and transport by IFT remain an area of active research. The complex dynamics of cilia and flagella are under constant regulation to ensure proper length control, and this regulation appears to involve regulation at the stage of IFT injection into the flagellum, as well as regulation of flagellar disassembly and, possibly, of cargo binding. Cilia and flagella thus represent a convenient model system to study how multiple motile and signaling pathways cooperate to control the assembly and dynamics of a complex cellular structure.
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