The unique membrane composition of cilia is maintained by a diffusion barrier at the transition zone that is breached when the BBSome escorts signaling receptors out of cilia. Understanding how the BBSome removes proteins from cilia has been hampered by a lack of structural information. Here, we present a nearly complete Cα model of BBSome purified from cow retina. The model is based on a single-particle cryo-electron microscopy density map at 4.9-Å resolution that was interpreted with the help of comprehensive Rosetta-based structural modeling constrained by crosslinking mass spectrometry data. We find that BBSome subunits have a very high degree of interconnectivity, explaining the obligate nature of the complex. Furthermore, like other coat adaptors, the BBSome exists in an autoinhibited state in solution and must thus undergo a conformational change upon recruitment to membranes by the small GTPase ARL6/BBS3. Our model provides the first detailed view of the machinery enabling ciliary exit.
Keywords: BBSome; cilia; trafficking.
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