Primary cilia: Cellular sensors for the skeleton

Charles T. Anderson, Alesha B. Castillo, Samantha A. Brugmann, Jill A. Helms, Christopher R. Jacobs, Tim Stearns

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The primary cilium is a solitary, immotile cilium that is present in almost every mammalian cell type. Primary cilia are thought to function as chemosensors, mechanosensors, or both, depending on cell type, and have been linked to several developmental signaling pathways. Primary cilium malfunction has been implicated in several human diseases, the symptoms of which include vision and hearing loss, polydactyly, and polycystic kidneys. Recently, primary cilia have also been implicated in the development and homeostasis of the skeleton. In this review, we discuss the structure and formation of the primary cilium and some of the mechanical and chemical signals to which it could be sensitive, with a focus on skeletal biology. We also raise several unanswered questions regarding the role of primary cilia as mechanosensors and chemosensors and identify potential research avenues to address these questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1074-1078
Number of pages5
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Kidneys, cilia
  • Primary cilium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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