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Amandine Pitaval

Study of the migration of the basal body during ciliogenesis

Published on 5 February 2016
Thesis presented 05 February 2016

The primary cilium is a sensory organelle present on the surface of most quiescent cells. It possesses numerous receptors on its surface and is responsible for transducing biochemical and mechanical signals to the interior of the cell and plays important roles during development and in homeostasis. Defects in primary cilium assembly are the underlying cause of a group of pleiotropic diseases referred to as ciliopathies.
The primary cilium is anchored to the plasma membrane through the basal body which is derived from the mother centriole and is connected to three networks of the cytoskeleton. Primary cilium formation is a highly regulated and multi-step process that begins with the maturation of the centriole mother into basal body in the cytoplasm of the cell. One of the first steps of primary cilium assembly is the recruitment of specific proteins to the mother centriole to initiate the formation of a ciliary vesicle at the distal end of the mother centriole. Once formed, the mother centriole migrates to and is anchored to the apical membrane, triggering the elongation of microtubules from the distal end of the mother centriole to form the outer part of primary cilium, or axoneme. In order for this to occur, significant remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton and direct-trafficking of vesicles to the base of the cilium is required. While much progress has been made in characterizing the initial steps of primary ciliogenesis, how the basal body migrates to the plasma membrane is not fully understood.
To gain a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the migration of basal body during ciliogenesis, we developed an experimental system based on the use of adhesive micro-patterns coated with fibronectin. This technology has many advantages. It enables the control of the cell spreading which is imposed by the size of the adhesive area and, in turn, the regulation of cytoskeletal organization and the positioning of subcellular organelles. Furthermore, this technique enables the cell volume induced by the spatial confinement, to be controlled, facilitating the observation and measurement of the centrosome’s position in z throughout the primary ciliogenesis process.
First, we demonstrated that the shape and architecture of the actin cytoskeleton are major regulators of primary ciliogenesis. Cells spatially confined and starved for 24h on small discoidal micropattern develop an apical web like actin network necessary for the primary cilium growth. In contrast, cells plated on large discs are much more contracted and they develop significant stress fibers on their ventral surface. In this situation, the centrosome remains below the nucleus and the level of contraction prevents the assembly of a primary cilium. The level of contractility therefore modulates the formation of apical actin network that in turn controls the movement of the basal body and the cilium elongation.
Secondly, we studied actin cytoskeleton and microtubule reorganization during the basal body migration step that occurred​ just after serum starvation. Our results indicate that migration requires a transient increase in the stability of microtubules, concomitant with an increase in contractility of actin filaments. By RNA interference screening, we have identified genes involved in the migration process including CEP164, which has previously been shown to participate in the anchoring of the ciliary vesicle to the mother centriole. CEP164-deficient cells were found to have defects in cytoskeletal reorganization thereby explaining why basal body transport to the plasma membrane was blocked in these cells.
Altogether, these results enable our understanding of how basal body movement to the apical membrane is driven. This requires both significant remodeling and crosstalk between the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton and interaction with ciliary components necessary for the formation of a primary cilium.

Ciliogenesis, primary cilium, micro-patterning, RNA interference, microtubules, centriole, cytoskeleton, cellular morphogenesis, centrosome

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