Cells have developed regulatory mechanisms that underlie flagellar assembly and maintenance, including the transcriptional regulation of flagellar genes, an initial step for making flagella. Although transcriptional regulation of flagellar gene expression is required for flagellar assembly in Chlamydomonas, no transcription factor that regulates the transcription of flagellar genes has been identified. We report that X chromosome-associated protein 5 (XAP5) acts as a transcription factor to regulate flagellar assembly in Chlamydomonas While XAP5 proteins are evolutionarily conserved across diverse organisms and play vital roles in diverse biological processes, nothing is known about the biochemical function of any member of this important protein family. Our data show that loss of XAP5 leads to defects in flagellar assembly. Posttranslational modifications of XAP5 track flagellar length during flagellar assembly, suggesting that cells possess a feedback system that modulates modifications to XAP5. Notably, XAP5 regulates flagellar gene expression via directly binding to a motif containing a CTGGGGTG-core. Furthermore, recruitment of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) machinery for transcriptional activation depends on the activities of XAP5. Our data demonstrate that, through recruitment of Pol II, XAP5 defines a class of transcription factors for transcriptional regulation of ciliary genes. This work provides insights into the biochemical function of the XAP5 family and the fundamental biology of the flagellar assembly, which enhance our understanding of the signaling and functions of flagella.
Keywords: Chlamydomonas; XAP5; cilia; transcription factor; transcriptional regulation.