STORM imaging reveals the spatial arrangement of transition zone components

The base of the cilium comprising the transition zone (TZ) and transition fibers (TF) acts as a selecting gate to regulate the intraflagellar transport (IFT)-dependent trafficking of proteins to and from cilia. Before entering the ciliary compartment, IFT complexes and transported cargoes accumulate at or near the base of the cilium. The spatial organization of IFT proteins at the cilia base is key for understanding cilia formation and function. Using stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) and computational averaging, we show that seven TZ, nine IFT, three Bardet–Biedl syndrome (BBS), and one centrosomal protein, form 9-clustered rings at the cilium base of a ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila. In the axial dimension, analyzed TZ proteins localize to a narrow region of about 30 nm while IFT proteins dock approximately 80 nm proximal to TZ.


Fig: Localization of the transition zone proteins.

Moreover, the IFT-A subcomplex is positioned peripheral to the IFT-B subcomplex and the investigated BBS proteins localize near the ciliary membrane. The positioning of the HA-tagged N- and C-termini of the selected proteins enabled the prediction of the spatial orientation of protein particles and likely cargo interaction sites. Based on the obtained data, we built a comprehensive 3D-model showing the arrangement of the investigated ciliary proteins.

Hazime, K.S., Zhou, Z., Joachimiak, E. et al. STORM imaging reveals the spatial arrangement of transition zone components and IFT particles at the ciliary base in Tetrahymena. Sci Rep 11, 7899 (2021).

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