UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

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Program in Molecular Medicine

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Cell Biology | Congenital, Hereditary, and Neonatal Diseases and Abnormalities | Genetic Phenomena


Diverse human ciliopathies, including nephronophthisis (NPHP), Meckel syndrome (MKS) and Joubert syndrome (JBTS), can be caused by mutations affecting components of the transition zone, a ciliary domain near its base. The transition zone controls the protein composition of the ciliary membrane, but how it does so is unclear. To better understand the transition zone and its connection to ciliopathies, we defined the arrangement of key proteins in the transition zone using two-color stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM). This mapping revealed that NPHP and MKS complex components form nested rings comprised of nine-fold doublets. The NPHP complex component RPGRIP1L forms a smaller diameter transition zone ring within the MKS complex rings. JBTS-associated mutations in RPGRIP1L disrupt the architecture of the MKS and NPHP rings, revealing that vertebrate RPGRIP1L has a key role in organizing transition zone architecture. JBTS-associated mutations in TCTN2, encoding an MKS complex component, also displace proteins of the MKS and NPHP complexes from the transition zone, revealing that RPGRIP1L and TCTN2 have interdependent roles in organizing transition zone architecture. To understand how altered transition zone architecture affects developmental signaling, we examined the localization of the Hedgehog pathway component SMO in human fibroblasts derived from JBTS-affected individuals. We found that diverse ciliary proteins, including SMO, accumulate at the transition zone in wild type cells, suggesting that the transition zone is a way station for proteins entering and exiting the cilium. JBTS-associated mutations in RPGRIP1L disrupt SMO accumulation at the transition zone and the ciliary localization of SMO. We propose that the disruption of transition zone architecture in JBTS leads to a failure of SMO to accumulate at the transition zone, disrupting developmental signaling in JBTS.


cell biology, ciliopathies, Joubert syndrome, transition zone, mutations, proteins, stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy, STORM, TCTN2, Meckel syndrome, nephronophthisis

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bioRxiv 142042; doi: Link to preprint on bioRxiv service.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License