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Ciliary length regulation by intraflagellar transport in zebrafish

Sun Y, Chen Z, Jin M, Xie H, Zhao C
bioRxiv. 2024;[preprint] doi:10.1101/2024.01.16.575975
How cells regulate the size of their organelles remains a fundamental question in cell biology. Cilia, with their simple structure and surface localization, provide an ideal model for investigating organelle size control. However, most studies on cilia length regulation are primarily performed on several single-celled organisms. In contrast, the mechanism of length regulation in cilia across diverse cell types within multicellular organisms remains a mystery. Similar to humans, zebrafish contain diverse types of cilia with variable lengths. Taking advantage of the transparency of zebrafish embryos, we conducted a comprehensive investigation into intraflagellar transport (IFT), an essential process for ciliogeneis. We observed IFT in multiple types of cilia with varying lengths. Remarkably, cilia exhibited variable IFT speeds in different cell types, with longer cilia exhibiting faster IFT speeds. The increased IFT speed in longer cilia was not due to changes in common factors that regulate IFT, such as motor selection, BBS proteins, or tubulin modification. Instead, longer cilia can organize larger IFT particles for faster transportation. Reducing the size of IFT particles can slow down IFT speed, resulting in shorter cilia. Our study presents an intriguing model of cilia length regulation via controlling IFT speed through the modulation of the size of the IFT complex. This discovery may provide further insights into our understanding of how organelle size is regulated in higher vertebrates.
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