The primary cilium is nucleated by the mother centriole-derived basal body (BB) via as yet poorly characterized mechanisms. BBs have been reported to degenerate following ciliogenesis in the C. elegans embryo, although neither BB architecture nor early ciliogenesis steps have been described in this organism. In a previous study (Doroquez et al., 2014), we described the three-dimensional morphologies of sensory neuron cilia in adult C. elegans hermaphrodites at high resolution. Here, we use serial section electron microscopy and tomography of staged C. elegans embryos to demonstrate that BBs remodel to support ciliogenesis in a subset of sensory neurons. We show that centriolar singlet microtubules are converted into BB doublets which subsequently grow asynchronously to template the ciliary axoneme, visualize degeneration of the centriole core, and define the developmental stage at which the transition zone is established. Our work provides a framework for future investigations into the mechanisms underlying BB remodeling.
Keywords: C. elegans; basal bodies; cell biology; cilia; electron microscopy.