Dynein Assembly Factor With Wd Repeat Domains 1 (daw1) Is Required for the Function of Motile Cilia in the Planarian Schmidtea Mediterranea

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Motile cilia propel directed cell movements and sweep fluids across the surface of tissues. Orthologs of D ynein A ssembly Factor with W D Repeat Domains 1 (DAW1) support normal ciliary beating by enhancing delivery of dynein complexes to axonemal microtubules. DAW1 mutations in vertebrates result in multiple developmental abnormalities and early or prenatal lethality, complicating functional assessment of DAW1 in adult structures. Planarian flatworms maintain cellular homeostasis and regenerate through differentiation of adult pluripotent stem cells, and systemic RNA‐interference (RNAi) can be induced to analyze gene function at any point after birth. A single ortholog of DAW1 was identified in the genome of the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea (Smed daw1 ). Smed‐DAW1 is composed of eight WD repeats, which are 55% identical to the founding member of this protein family (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii ODA16) and 58% identical to human DAW1. Smed daw1 is expressed in the planarian epidermis, protonephridial excretory system, and testes, all of which contain cells functionally dependent on motile cilia. Smed‐daw1 RNAi resulted in locomotion defects and edema, which are phenotypes characteristic of multiciliated epidermis and protonephridial dysfunction, respectively. Changes in abundance or length of motile cilia were not observed at the onset of phenotypic manifestations upon Smed‐daw1 RNAi, corroborating with studies showing that DAW‐1 loss of function leads to aberrant movement of motile cilia in other organisms, rather than loss of cilia per se. However, extended RNAi treatments did result in shorter epidermal cilia and decreased abundance of ciliated protonephridia, suggesting that Smed‐daw1 is required for homeostatic maintenance of these structures in flatworms.



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