Requirement of NPHP5 in the hierarchical assembly of basal feet associated with basal bodies of primary cilia


During ciliogenesis, the mother centriole transforms into a basal body competent to nucleate a cilium. The mother centriole and basal body possess sub-distal appendages (SDAs) and basal feet (BF), respectively. SDAs and BF are thought to be equivalent structures. In contrast to SDA assembly, little is known about the players involved in BF assembly and its assembly order. Furthermore, the contribution of BF to ciliogenesis is not understood. Here, we found that SDAs are distinguishable from BF and that the protein NPHP5 is a novel SDA and BF component. Remarkably, NPHP5 is specifically required for BF assembly in cells able to form basal bodies but is dispensable for SDA assembly. Determination of the hierarchical assembly reveals that NPHP5 cooperates with a subset of SDA/BF proteins to organize BF. The assembly pathway of BF is similar but not identical to that of SDA. Loss of NPHP5 or a BF protein simultaneously inhibits BF assembly and primary ciliogenesis, and these phenotypes could be rescued by manipulating the expression of certain components in the BF assembly pathway. These findings define a novel role for NPHP5 in specifically regulating BF assembly, a process which is tightly coupled to primary ciliogenesis.

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Three dimensional-structured illumination microscopy


Basal feet


Distal appendages


Anti-detyrosinated tubulin


Electron microscopy


Anti-glutamylated tubulin


Intraflagellar transport




Pericentriolar material


Proximity ligation assay


Retinal pigmented epithelial cells


Sub-distal appendages


Transition fibers


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We thank all members of the Tsang laboratory for constructive advice, and L. Wordeman, K. Lee, and E. Nigg for providing antibodies and plasmids. We are indebted to A. Das and J. Qian for their assistance on this project, H. Vali, K. Sears and J. Mui for their help with EM data acquisition and analysis, and D. Filion, E. Wee and M. Fu for their guidance with super-resolution microscopy. WYT was a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator and a Fonds de recherche Santé Junior 2 Research Scholar. This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to WYT.

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WYT designed all experiments with input from DH and MB. DH and MB performed the experiments and analyzed the results. WYT and DH wrote the paper, and all authors reviewed the paper.

Correspondence to William Y. Tsang.

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Hossain, D., Barbelanne, M. & Tsang, W.Y. Requirement of NPHP5 in the hierarchical assembly of basal feet associated with basal bodies of primary cilia. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 77, 195–212 (2020).

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  • Centrosome-centriole-distal
  • Appendage-subdistal
  • Appendage-microtubule-cell
  • Biology-superresolution