ALS-linked C9orf72-SMCR8 complex is a negative regulator of primary ciliogenesis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Dec 12;120(50):e2220496120. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2220496120. Epub 2023 Dec 8.


Massive GGGGCC (G4C2) repeat expansion in C9orf72 and the resulting loss of C9orf72 function are the key features of ~50% of inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia cases. However, the biological function of C9orf72 remains unclear. We previously found that C9orf72 can form a stable GTPase activating protein (GAP) complex with SMCR8 (Smith-Magenis chromosome region 8). Herein, we report that the C9orf72-SMCR8 complex is a major negative regulator of primary ciliogenesis, abnormalities in which lead to ciliopathies. Mechanistically, the C9orf72-SMCR8 complex suppresses the primary cilium as a RAB8A GAP. Moreover, based on biochemical analysis, we found that C9orf72 is the RAB8A binding subunit and that SMCR8 is the GAP subunit in the complex. We further found that the C9orf72-SMCR8 complex suppressed the primary cilium in multiple tissues from mice, including but not limited to the brain, kidney, and spleen. Importantly, cells with C9orf72 or SMCR8 knocked out were more sensitive to hedgehog signaling. These results reveal the unexpected impact of C9orf72 on primary ciliogenesis and elucidate the pathogenesis of diseases caused by the loss of C9orf72 function.

Keywords: C9orf72; GAP; SMCR8; membrane trafficking; primary cilium.

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • C9orf72 Protein* / genetics
  • C9orf72 Protein* / metabolism
  • Cilia* / metabolism
  • DNA Repeat Expansion
  • Frontotemporal Dementia* / metabolism
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice


  • C9orf72 Protein
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • SMCR8 protein, human
  • SMCR8 protein, mouse