Gene dosage of independent dynein arm motor preassembly factors influences cilia assembly in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Gervette M. Penny, Susan K. Dutcher

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Motile cilia assembly utilizes over 800 structural and cytoplasmic proteins. Variants in approximately 58 genes cause primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) in humans, including the dynein arm (pre)assembly factor (DNAAF) gene DNAAF4. In humans, outer dynein arms (ODAs) and inner dynein arms (IDAs) fail to assemble motile cilia when DNAAF4 function is disrupted. In Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a ciliated unicellular alga, the DNAAF4 ortholog is called PF23. The pf23-1 mutant assembles short cilia and lacks IDAs, but partially retains ODAs. The cilia of a new null allele (pf23-4) completely lack ODAs and IDAs and are even shorter than cilia from pf23-1. In addition, PF23 plays a role in the cytoplasmic modification of IC138, a protein of the two-headed IDA (I1/f). As most PCD variants in humans are recessive, we sought to test if heterozygosity at two genes affects ciliary function using a secondsite non-complementation (SSNC) screening approach. We asked if phenotypes were observed in diploids with pairwise heterozygous combinations of 21 well-characterized ciliary mutant Chlamydomonas strains. Vegetative cultures of single and double heterozygous diploid cells did not show SSNC for motility phenotypes. When protein synthesis is inhibited, wild-type Chlamydomonas cells utilize the pool of cytoplasmic proteins to assemble halflength cilia. In this sensitized assay, 8 double heterozygous diploids with pf23 and other DNAAF mutations show SSNC; they assemble shorter cilia than wild-type. In contrast, double heterozygosity of the other 203 strains showed no effect on ciliary assembly. Immunoblots of diploids heterozygous for pf23 and wdr92 or oda8 show that PF23 is reduced by half in these strains, and that PF23 dosage affects phenotype severity. Reductions in PF23 and another DNAAF in diploids affect the ability to assemble ODAs and IDAs and impedes ciliary assembly. Thus, dosage of multiple DNAAFs is an important factor in cilia assembly and regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1011038
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 18 2024


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