Developmental biology

Forward genetics uncovers Transmembrane protein 107 as a novel factor required for ciliogenesis and Sonic hedgehog signaling.

PMID 22698544


Cilia are dynamic organelles that are essential for a vast array of developmental patterning events, including left-right specification, skeletal formation, neural development, and organogenesis. Despite recent advances in understanding cilia form and function, many key ciliogenesis components have yet to be identified. By using a forward genetics approach, we isolated a novel mutant allele (schlei) of the mouse Transmembrane protein 107 (Tmem107) gene, which we show here is critical for cilia formation and embryonic patterning. Tmem107 is required for normal Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling in the neural tube and acts in combination with Gli2 and Gli3 to pattern ventral and intermediate neuronal cell types. schlei mutants also form extra digits, and we demonstrate that Tmem107 acts in the Shh pathway to determine digit number, but not identity, by regulating a subset of Shh target genes. Phenotypically, schlei mutants share several features with other cilia mutants; however, spatial restriction of mutant phenotypes and lack of left-right patterning defects in schlei animals suggest differential requirements for Tmem107 in cilia formation in distinct tissues. Also, in contrast to mutants with complete loss of cilia, schlei mutants retain some function of both Gli activator and repressor forms. Together, these studies identify a previously unknown regulator of ciliogenesis and provide insight into how ciliary factors affect Shh signaling and cilia biogenesis in distinct tissues.

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