Most motile cilia have a stereotyped structure of nine microtubule outer doublets and a single central pair of microtubules. The central pair of microtubules are surrounded by a set of proteins, termed the central pair apparatus. A specific kinesin, Klp1 projects from the central pair and contributes to ciliary motility in Chlamydomonas. The vertebrate ortholog, Kif9, is required for beating in mouse sperm flagella, but the mechanism of Kif9/Klp1 function remains poorly defined. Here, using Xenopus epidermal multiciliated cells, we show that Kif9 is necessary for ciliary motility and the proper distal localization of not only central pair proteins, but also radial spokes and dynein arms. In addition, single-molecule assays in vitro reveal that Xenopus Kif9 is a long-range processive motor, although it does not mediate long-range movement in ciliary axonemes in vivo. Together, our data suggest that Kif9 is integral for ciliary beating and is necessary for proper axonemal distal end integrity.

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