Dynll1 is essential for development and promotes endochondral bone formation by regulating intraflagellar dynein function in primary cilia

Ashleigh King, Nicolas C. Hoch, Narelle E. McGregor, Natalie A. Sims, Ian M. Smyth, Jörg Heierhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Mutations in subunits of the cilia-specific cytoplasmic dynein-2 (CD2) complex cause short-rib thoracic dystrophy syndromes (SRTDs), characterized by impaired bone growth and life-threatening perinatal respiratory complications. Different SRTD mutations result in varying disease severities. It remains unresolved whether this reflects the extent of retained hypomorphic protein functions or relative importance of the affected subunits for the activity of the CD2 holoenzyme. To define the contribution of the LC8-type dynein light chain subunit to the CD2 complex, we have generated Dynll1-deficient mouse strains, including the first-ever conditional knockout (KO) mutant for any CD2 subunit. Germline Dynll1 KO mice exhibit a severe ciliopathy-like phenotype similar to mice lacking another CD2 subunit, Dync2li1. Limb mesoderm-specific loss of Dynll1 results in severe bone shortening similar to human SRTD patients. Mechanistically, loss of Dynll1 leads to a partial depletion of other SRTD-related CD2 subunits, severely impaired retrograde intra-flagellar transport, significant thickening of primary cilia and cilia signaling defects. Interestingly, phenotypes of Dynll1-deficient mice are very similar to entirely cilia-deficient Kif3a/Ift88-null mice, except that they never present with polydactyly and retain relatively higher signaling outputs in parts of the hedgehog pathway. Compared to complete loss of Dynll1, maintaining very low DYNLL1 levels in mice lacking the Dynll1-transcription factor ASCIZ (ATMIN) results in significantly attenuated phenotypes and improved CD2 protein levels. The results suggest that primary cilia can maintain some functionality in the absence of intact CD2 complexes and provide a viable animal model for the analysis of the underlying bone development defects of SRTDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2573-2588
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Cite this