Ciliary trafficking defects underlie the pathogenesis of severe human ciliopathies, including Joubert Syndrome (JBTS), Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, and some forms of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Mutations in the ciliary protein RPGR (retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator) are common causes of RP-associated photoreceptor degeneration worldwide. While previous work has suggested that the localization of RPGR to cilia is critical to its functions, the mechanism by which RPGR and its associated cargo are trafficked to the cilia is unclear. Using proteomic and biochemical approaches, we show that RPGR interacts with two JBTS-associated ciliary proteins: PDE6δ (delta subunit of phosphodiesterase; a prenyl-binding protein) and INPP5E (inositol polyphosphate-5-phosphatase 5E). We find that PDE6δ binds selectively to the C-terminus of RPGR and that this interaction is critical for RPGR’s localization to cilia. Furthermore, we show that INPP5E associates with the N-terminus of RPGR and trafficking of INPP5E to cilia is dependent upon the ciliary localization of RPGR. These results implicate prenylation of RPGR as a critical modification for its localization to cilia and, in turn suggest that trafficking of INPP5E to cilia depends upon the interaction of RPGR with PDE6δ. Finally, our results implicate INPP5E, a novel RPGR-interacting protein, in the pathogenesis of RPGR-associated ciliopathies.

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