The diversity of sensory cilia on Caenorhabditis elegans neurons allows the animal to detect a variety of sensory stimuli. Sensory cilia are assembled by intraflagellar transport (IFT) kinesins, which transport ciliary precursors, bound to IFT particles, along the ciliary axoneme for incorporation into ciliary structures. Using fluorescence microscopy of living animals and serial section electron microscopy of high pressure-frozen, freeze-substituted IFT motor mutants, we found that two IFT kinesins, homodimeric OSM-3 kinesin and heterotrimeric kinesin II, function in a partially redundant manner to build full-length amphid channel cilia but are completely redundant for building full-length amphid wing (AWC) cilia. This difference reflects cilia-specific differences in OSM-3 activity, which serves to extend distal singlets in channel cilia but not in AWC cilia, which lack such singlets. Moreover, AWC-specific chemotaxis assays reveal novel sensory functions for kinesin II in these wing cilia. We propose that kinesin II is a "canonical" IFT motor, whereas OSM-3 is an "accessory" IFT motor, and that subtle changes in the deployment or actions of these IFT kinesins can contribute to differences in cilia morphology, cilia function, and sensory perception.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology