Arl3 and RP2 regulate the trafficking of ciliary tip kinesins

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Ciliary trafficking defects are the underlying cause of many ciliopathies, including Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Anterograde intraflagellar transport (IFT) is mediated by kinesin motor proteins; however, the function of the homodimeric Kif17 motor in cilia is poorly understood, whereas Kif7 is known to play an important role in stabilizing cilia tips. Here we identified the ciliary tip kinesins Kif7 and Kif17 as novel interaction partners of the small GTPase Arl3 and its regulatory GTPase activating protein (GAP) Retinitis Pigmentosa 2 (RP2). We show that Arl3 and RP2 mediate the localization of GFP-Kif17 to the cilia tip and competitive binding of RP2 and Arl3 with Kif17 complexes. RP2 and Arl3 also interact with another ciliary tip kinesin, Kif7, which is a conserved regulator of Hedgehog (Hh) signaling. siRNA-mediated loss of RP2 or Arl3 reduced the level of Kif7 at the cilia tip. This was further validated by reduced levels of Kif7 at cilia tips detected in fibroblasts and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) 3D optic cups derived from a patient carrying an RP2 nonsense mutation c.519C > T (p.R120X), which lack detectable RP2 protein. Translational read-through inducing drugs (TRIDs), such as PTC124, were able to restore Kif7 levels at the ciliary tip of RP2 null cells. Collectively, our findings suggest that RP2 and Arl3 regulate the trafficking of specific kinesins to cilia tips and provide additional evidence that TRIDs could be clinically beneficial for patients with this retinal degeneration.

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