Form meets function: Structurally diverse cilia and their roles in sensory signaling
Primary cilia are microtubule-based organelles that are now known to be present on nearly all differentiated cell types in metazoans. Cilia house signaling molecules that transduce environmental cues and regulate cellular homeostasis and organismal development. Disruption of cilia structure or function is linked with a plethora of diseases termed ciliopathies, many of which are characterized by sensory defects. Despite increased focus on this critically important cellular structure, the mechanisms that link ciliogenesis and cilia structure to cilia-based signaling remain to be fully elucidated.The nematode C. elegans provides an excellent model for the study of ciliogenesis and sensory signaling. Cilia are present only on sensory neurons in C. elegans, and as in other organisms, are essential for the unique functions of these neuron types. In particular, many sensory neurons in C. elegans exhibit remarkably complex cilia structures, providing an excellent system in which to explore the conserved pathways that couple the generation of specialized cilia morphology to unique cellular and signaling functions. In her presentation, Dr. Sengupta will describe recent and ongoing work in the lab on mechanisms that generate and maintain cilia structural diversity in C. elegans, and discuss the complex interplay between cilia architecture and sensory neuron function.
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