Intraflagellar transport (IFT) is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism thought to be required for the assembly and maintenance of all eukaryotic cilia and flagella. Although IFT proteins are present in cells with sensory cilia, the organization of IFT protein complexes in those cells has not been analyzed. To determine whether the IFT complex is conserved in the sensory cilia of photoreceptors, we investigated protein interactions among four mammalian IFT proteins: IFT88/Polaris, IFT57/Hippi, IFT52/NGD5, and IFT20. We demonstrate that IFT proteins extracted from bovine photoreceptor outer segments, a modified sensory cilium, co-fractionate at ∼17 S, similar to IFT proteins extracted from mouse testis. Using antibodies to IFT88 and IFT57, we demonstrate that all four IFT proteins co-immunoprecipitate from lysates of mouse testis, kidney, and retina. We also extended our analysis to interactions outside of the IFT complex and demonstrate an ATP-regulated co-immunoprecipitation of heterotrimeric kinesin II with the IFT complex. The internal architecture of the IFT complex was investigated using the yeast two-hybrid system. IFT20 exhibited a strong interaction with IFT57/Hippi and the kinesin II subunit, KIF3B. Our data indicate that all four mammalian IFT proteins are part of a highly conserved complex in multiple ciliated cell types. Furthermore, IFT20 appears to bridge kinesin II with the IFT complex.
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