First Person is a series of interviews with the first authors of a selection of papers published in Journal of Cell Science, helping researchers promote themselves alongside their papers. Alice Dupont Juhl is co-first author on ‘ Transient accumulation and bidirectional movement of KIF13B in primary cilia’, published in JCS. Alice is a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Daniel Wüstner at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, focusing on molecular cell imaging.

Alice Dupont Juhl

How would you explain the main findings of your paper in lay terms?

Most animal cells have a single primary cilium on their surface, which acts as a type of antenna. This antenna is essential for the cell to receive signals from its surroundings and translate these signals into a cellular response, allowing cells to properly regulate diverse cellular processes during development and in tissue homeostasis. Cilia are compartmentalized organelles and their assembly, maintenance and function depend on several molecules being transported into and out of the organelles. The intraciliary transport of such molecules depends on a well-known transport system called intraflagellar transport (IFT), which, via specific molecular motors, kinesin-2 and dynein-2, can bring cargo into and out of the cilium. In this article, we provide the first demonstration of intraciliary movement in human cells by a molecular motor other than the conventional IFT motors, namely, the ciliary kinesin-3 motor KIF13B. KIF13B moves with transient/burst-like motility within the cilium and this movement depends on its own motor domain. Our work demonstrates that motor-based transport of molecules within primary cilia of human cells is more complex than previously anticipated and is not limited to conventional IFT.

Were there any specific challenges associated with this project? If so, how did you overcome them?

The intraciliary movement of KIF13B happens only occasionally and is cell-type specific. Thus, catching its movement required a lot of long hours on the microscope and a lot of controls to make sure that the observations were not artefacts.

When doing the research, did you have a particular result or ‘eureka’ moment that has stuck with you?

I joined Prof. Lotte Bang Pedersen's lab for an environmental change as part of my PhD studies and spent many hours on the microscope just to get the hang of imaging primary cilia in living cells. I had started to record a timelapse for quite some time and did not pay attention to the microscope while it was recording. When I subsequently looked through the movie and saw the green KIF13B moving in and out of the cilium, in a ‘funny’ but defined manner, I was really intrigued and thought to myself, ‘this could be something interesting’. However, it was not until the following day when I showed Lotte the data and felt her excitement that I got my ‘eureka’ moment.

Transient bidirectional movement of eGFP–KIF13B in primary cilia of hTERT-RPE1 cells. eGFP–KIF13B (green) can be seen transiently moving into cilia, marked with SMO–tRFP (red). On rare occasions, shedding of eGFP–KIF13B was observed from the cilium tip (marked with arrows). However, the functional significance of this shedding is still unknown.

Transient bidirectional movement of eGFP–KIF13B in primary cilia of hTERT-RPE1 cells. eGFP–KIF13B (green) can be seen transiently moving into cilia, marked with SMO–tRFP (red). On rare occasions, shedding of eGFP–KIF13B was observed from the cilium tip (marked with arrows). However, the functional significance of this shedding is still unknown.

Why did you choose Journal of Cell Science for your paper?

Journal of Cell Science has a very good reputation amongst cell biologists and many scientists from the cilia field regularly publish their work in this journal. Furthermore, we have had good experience with publishing in Journal of Cell Science in the past.

Have you had any significant mentors who have helped you beyond supervision in the lab? How was their guidance special?

Absolutely. During this project I had two supervisors, Prof. Lotte Bang Pedersen and Assoc. Prof. Daniel Wüstner, whose diverse backgrounds and skills complemented each other very well in this study. Besides giving me the opportunity to do interesting science, to a great extent they also showed me how a good scientific collaboration can take place – not only for the drafting of the article, but also all the brainstorming, the project management, and the different ways to view and interpret the same types of data. I truly hope that I will get many more opportunities to experience scientific collaborations like this one.

Who are your role models in science? Why?

Marie Curie, because she did science because she was curious. She found science fun, interesting and did not stop just because the road was hard. Moreover, she took breaks, went on holidays and had kids, all while managing to do great science.

Alice Dupont Juhl's contact details: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark.

E-mail: alicedk@bmb.sdu.dk

Juhl
,
A. D.
,
Anvarian
,
Z.
,
Kuhns
,
S.
,
Berges
,
J.
,
Andersen
,
J. S.
,
Wüstner
,
D.
and
Pedersen
,
L. B.
(
2023
).
Transient accumulation and bidirectional movement of KIF13B in primary cilia
.
J. Cell Sci.
136
,
jcs259257
.