Rab34 GTPase mediates ciliary membrane formation in the intracellular ciliogenesis pathway

Anil Kumar Ganga, Margaret C. Kennedy, Mai E. Oguchi, Shawn Gray, Kendall E. Oliver, Tracy A. Knight, Enrique M. De La Cruz, Yuta Homma, Mitsunori Fukuda, David K. Breslow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The primary cilium is an essential organizing center for signal transduction, and ciliary defects cause congenital disorders known collectively as ciliopathies.1–3 Primary cilia form by two pathways that are employed in a cell-type- and tissue-specific manner: an extracellular pathway in which the cilium grows out from the cell surface and an intracellular pathway in which the nascent cilium first forms inside the cell.4–8 After exposure to the external environment, cilia formed via the intracellular pathway may have distinct functional properties, as they often remain recessed within a ciliary pocket.9,10 However, the precise mechanism of intracellular ciliogenesis and its relatedness to extracellular ciliogenesis remain poorly understood. Here we show that Rab34, a poorly characterized GTPase recently linked to cilia,11–13 is a selective mediator of intracellular ciliogenesis. We find that Rab34 is required for formation of the ciliary vesicle at the mother centriole and that Rab34 marks the ciliary sheath, a unique sub-domain of assembling intracellular cilia. Rab34 activity is modulated by divergent residues within its GTPase domain, and ciliogenesis requires GTP binding and turnover by Rab34. Because Rab34 is found on assembly intermediates that are unique to intracellular ciliogenesis, we tested its role in the extracellular pathway used by polarized MDCK cells. Consistent with Rab34 acting specifically in the intracellular pathway, MDCK cells ciliate independently of Rab34 and its paralog Rab36. Together, these findings establish that different modes of ciliogenesis have distinct molecular requirements and reveal Rab34 as a new GTPase mediator of ciliary membrane biogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2895-2905.e7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul 12


  • GTPase
  • Rab
  • centriole
  • cilia
  • ciliary vesicle
  • ciliogenesis
  • ciliopathy
  • membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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