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Intraflagellar transport particle size scales inversely with flagellar length: revisiting the balance-point length control model


The assembly and maintenance of eukaryotic flagella are regulated by intraflagellar transport (IFT), the bidirectional traffic of IFT particles (recently renamed IFT trains) within the flagellum. We previously proposed the balance-point length control model, which predicted that the frequency of train transport should decrease as a function of flagellar length, thus modulating the length-dependent flagellar assembly rate. However, this model was challenged by the differential interference contrast microscopy observation that IFT frequency is length independent. Using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to quantify protein traffic during the regeneration of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii flagella, we determined that anterograde IFT trains in short flagella are composed of more kinesin-associated protein and IFT27 proteins than trains in long flagella. This length-dependent remodeling of train size is consistent with the kinetics of flagellar regeneration and supports a revised balance-point model of flagellar length control in which the size of anterograde IFT trains tunes the rate of flagellar assembly.

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