Intraflagellar transport (IFT) is required for ciliary assembly. The IFT machinery comprises the IFT motors kinesin-2 and IFT dynein plus IFT-A and IFT-B complexes, which assemble into IFT trains in cilia. To gain mechanistic understanding of IFT and ciliary assembly, here, we performed an absolute quantification of IFT machinery in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii cilium. There are ∼756, ∼532, ∼276 and ∼350 molecules of IFT-B, IFT-A, IFT dynein and kinesin-2, respectively, per cilium. The amount of IFT-B is sufficient to sustain rapid ciliary growth in terms of tubulin delivery. The stoichiometric ratio of IFT-B:IFT-A:dynein is ∼3:2:1 whereas the IFT-B:IFT-A ratio in an IFT dynein mutant is 2:1, suggesting that there is a plastic interaction between IFT-A and IFT-B that can be influenced by IFT dynein. Considering diffusion of kinesin-2 during retrograde IFT, it is estimated that one kinesin-2 molecule drives eight molecules of IFT-B during anterograde IFT. These data provide new insights into the assembly of IFT trains and ciliary assembly.

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