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The structural basis of intraflagellar transport at a glance



The intraflagellar transport (IFT) system is a remarkable molecular machine used by cells to assemble and maintain the cilium, a long organelle extending from eukaryotic cells that gives rise to motility, sensing and signaling. IFT plays a critical role in building the cilium by shuttling structural components and signaling receptors between the ciliary base and tip. To provide effective transport, IFT-A and IFT-B adaptor protein complexes assemble into highly repetitive polymers, called IFT trains, that are powered by the motors kinesin-2 and IFT-dynein to move bidirectionally along the microtubules. This dynamic system must be precisely regulated to shuttle different cargo proteins between the ciliary tip and base. In this Cell Science at a Glance article and the accompanying poster, we discuss the current structural and mechanistic understanding of IFT trains and how they function as macromolecular machines to assemble the structure of the cilium.