Identification of Chlamydomonas Central Core Centriolar Proteins Reveals a Role for Human WDR90 in Ciliogenesis

Curr Biol. 2017 Aug 21;27(16):2486-2498.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.07.011. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


Centrioles are evolutionarily conserved macromolecular structures that are fundamental to form cilia, flagella, and centrosomes. Centrioles are 9-fold symmetrical microtubule-based cylindrical barrels comprising three regions that can be clearly distinguished in the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii organelle: an ∼100-nm-long proximal region harboring a cartwheel; an ∼250-nm-long central core region containing a Y-shaped linker; and an ∼150-nm-long distal region ending at the transitional plate. Despite the discovery of many centriolar components, no protein has been localized specifically to the central core region in Chlamydomonas thus far. Here, combining relative quantitative mass spectrometry and super-resolution microscopy on purified Chlamydomonas centrioles, we identified POB15 and POC16 as two proteins of the central core region, the distribution of which correlates with that of tubulin glutamylation. We demonstrated that POB15 is an inner barrel protein within this region. Moreover, we developed an assay to uncover temporal relationships between centriolar proteins during organelle assembly and thus established that POB15 is recruited after the cartwheel protein CrSAS-6 and before tubulin glutamylation takes place. Furthermore, we discovered that two poc16 mutants exhibit flagellar defects, indicating that POC16 is important for flagellum biogenesis. In addition, we discovered that WDR90, the human homolog of POC16, localizes to a region of human centrioles that we propose is analogous to the central core of Chlamydomonas centrioles. Moreover, we demonstrate that WDR90 is required for ciliogenesis, echoing the findings in Chlamydomonas. Overall, our work provides novel insights into the identity and function of centriolar central core components.

Keywords: Chlamydomonas; basal body; centriole; ciliogenesis; inner barrel; super-resolution microscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Centrioles / metabolism*
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / physiology*
  • Cilia / genetics*
  • Cilia / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Tubulin