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The Meckel-Gruber Syndrome protein TMEM67 (meckelin) regulates basal body planar polarization and non-canonical Wnt signalling via Wnt5a and ROR2


Ciliopathies are a group of developmental disorders that manifest with multi-organ anomalies. Mutations in TMEM67 have been reported in human ciliopathies that include Meckel-Gruber and Joubert syndromes. In this study we describe multi-organ developmental abnormalities in the Tmem67tm1Dgen/H1 knockout mouse that closely resemble those of Wnt5a and Ror2 knockout mice.


We used anatomical assessment, immunofluorescence confocal microscopy and biochemical methods to determine mutant phenotypes at the organismal, cellular and molecular levels.


Tmem67-/- mutant phenotypes include pulmonary hypoplasia, ventricular septal defects, shortening of the body longitudinal axis, limb abnormalities, and cochlear hair cell stereociliary bundle orientation and basal body/kinocilium positioning defects. The basal body/kinocilium complex was often uncoupled from the hair bundle, suggesting aberrant basal body migration. TMEM67 (meckelin) is essential for phosphorylation of the non-canonical Wnt receptor ROR2 (receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2) upon Wnt5a stimulation. ROR2 interacts with the intracellular C-terminal domain of TMEM67 and co-localizes with TMEM67 at the ciliary transition zone. The N-terminal domain of TMEM67 preferentially binds to Wnt5a in an in vitro binding assay. Tmem67 mutant embryonic lungs in ex vivo culture failed to respond to Wnt5a stimulation of epithelial morphogenesis. However, stimulating the non-canonical Wnt pathway downstream of the receptor by activating RhoA resulted in an elicited response and the rescue of lung hypoplasia phenotypes.


Our data suggest that TMEM67 is a novel receptor that has a major role in non-canonical Wnt signalling by Wnt5a and ROR2. We propose that this signalling ensures correct basal body positioning.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Abdelhamed, Z., Natarajan, S., Inglehearn, C. et al. The Meckel-Gruber Syndrome protein TMEM67 (meckelin) regulates basal body planar polarization and non-canonical Wnt signalling via Wnt5a and ROR2. Cilia 4 (Suppl 1), P40 (2015).

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