Cilia play important signaling or motile functions in various organisms. In Human, cilia dysfunctions are responsible for a wide range of diseases, called ciliopathies. Cilia assembly is a tightly controlled process, which starts with the conversion of the centriole into a basal body, leading to the formation of the ciliary bud that protrudes inside a ciliary vesicle and/or ultimately at the cell surface. Ciliary bud formation is associated with the assembly of the transition zone (TZ), a complex architecture of proteins of the ciliary base which plays critical functions in gating proteins in and out of the ciliary compartment. Many proteins are involved in the assembly of the TZ, which shows structural and functional variations in different cell types or organisms. In this review, we discuss how a particular complex, composed of members of the DZIP1, CBY and FAM92 families of proteins, is required for the initial stages of cilia assembly leading to ciliary bud formation and how their functional hierarchy contributes to TZ assembly. Moreover, we summarize how evidences in Drosophila reveal functional differences of the DZIP1–CBY–FAM92 complex in the different ciliated tissues of this organism. Whereas it is essential for proper TZ assembly in the two types of ciliated tissues, it is involved in stable anchoring of basal bodies to the plasma membrane in male germ cells. Overall, the DZIP1–CBY–FAM92 complex reveals a molecular assembly pathway required for the initial stages of ciliary bud formation and that is conserved from Drosophila to Human.

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