Background: Clusterin associated protein 1 (CLUAP1) was initially characterized as a protein that interacts with clusterin, and whose gene is frequently upregulated in colon cancer. Although the consequences of these observations remain unclear, research of CLUAP1 homologs in C. elegans and zebrafish indicates that it is needed for cilia assembly and maintenance in these models. To begin evaluating whether Cluap1 has an evolutionarily conserved role in cilia in mammalian systems and to explore the association of Cluap1 with disease pathogenesis and developmental abnormalities, we generated Cluap1 mutant mice.Methods: Cluap1 mutant embryos were generated and examined for gross morphological and anatomical defects using light microscopy. Reverse transcription PCR, β-galactosidase staining assays, and immunofluorescence analysis were used to determine the expression of the gene and localization of the protein in vivo and in cultured cell lines. We also used immunofluorescence analysis and qRT-PCR to examine defects in the Sonic hedgehog signaling pathway in mutant embryos.Results: Cluap1 mutant embryos die in mid-gestation, indicating that it is necessary for proper development. Mutant phenotypes include a failure of embryonic turning, an enlarged pericardial sac, and defects in neural tube development. Consistent with the diverse phenotypes, Cluap1 is widely expressed. Furthermore, the Cluap1 protein localizes to primary cilia, and mutant embryos were found to lack cilia at embryonic day 9.5. The phenotypes observed in Cluap1 mutant mice are indicative of defects in Sonic hedgehog signaling. This was confirmed by analyzing hedgehog signaling activity in Cluap1 mutants, which revealed that the pathway is repressed.Conclusions: These data indicate that the function of Cluap1 is evolutionarily conserved with regard to ciliogenesis. Further, the results implicate mammalian Cluap1 as a key regulator of hedgehog signaling and as an intraflagellar transport B complex protein. Future studies on mammalian Cluap1 utilizing this mouse model may provide insights into the role for Cluap1 in intraflagellar transport and the association with colon cancer and cystic kidney disorders. © 2012 Pasek et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.