Primary Cilium Formation and Ciliary Protein Trafficking Is Regulated by the Atypical MAP Kinase MAPK15 in Caenorhabditis elegans and Human Cells

Genetics. 2017 Dec;207(4):1423-1440. doi: 10.1534/genetics.117.300383. Epub 2017 Oct 11.


Motile and immotile (or primary) cilia are microtubule-based structures that mediate multiple cellular functions, including the transduction of environmental cues, developmental signaling, cellular motility, and modulation of fluid flow. Although their core architectures are similar, motile and primary cilia exhibit marked structural differences that underlie distinct functional properties. However, the extent to which ciliogenesis mechanisms are shared between these different cilia types is not fully described. Here, we report that the atypical MAP kinase MAPK15 (ERK7/8), implicated in the formation of vertebrate motile cilia, also regulates the formation of primary cilia in Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neurons and human cells. We find that MAPK15 localizes to a basal body subdomain with the ciliopathy protein BBS7 and to cell-cell junctions. MAPK15 also regulates the localization of ciliary proteins involved in cilium structure, transport, and signaling. Our results describe a primary cilia-related role for this poorly studied member of the MAPK family in vivo, and indicate a broad requirement for MAPK15 in the formation of multiple ciliary classes across species.

Keywords: C. elegans; MAPK15; basal body; primary cilia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cilia / genetics*
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Microtubules
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • MAPK15 protein, human