Ciliopathies are often caused by defects in the ciliary microtubule core. Glutamylation is abundant in cilia, and its dysregulation may contribute to ciliopathies and neurodegeneration. Mutation of the deglutamylase CCP1 causes infantile-onset neurodegeneration. In C. elegans, ccpp-1 loss causes age-related ciliary degradation that is suppressed by a mutation in the conserved NEK10 homolog nekl-4. NEKL-4 is absent from cilia, yet it negatively regulates ciliary stability via an unknown, glutamylation-independent mechanism. We show that NEKL-4 was mitochondria-associated. Additionally, nekl-4 mutants had longer mitochondria, a higher baseline mitochondrial oxidation state, and suppressed ccpp-1∆ mutant lifespan extension in response to oxidative stress. A kinase-dead nekl-4(KD) mutant ectopically localized to ccpp-1∆ cilia and rescued degenerating microtubule doublet B-tubules. A nondegradable nekl-4(PEST∆) mutant resembled the ccpp-1∆ mutant with dye-filling defects and B-tubule breaks. The nekl-4(PEST∆) Dyf phenotype was suppressed by mutation in the depolymerizing kinesin-8 KLP-13/KIF19A. We conclude that NEKL-4 influences ciliary stability by activating ciliary kinesins and promoting mitochondrial homeostasis.

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