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Keywords:

  • Neuron;
  • Brain;
  • Cilium;
  • Intraflagellar transport;
  • sst3

Abstract

Primary cilia in neurons have often been regarded as rare, vestigial curiosities. However, neuronal cilia are now gaining recognition as ubiquitous organelles in the mammalian brain, raising speculation about what their functions may be. They might have some features tailored for the nervous system and others that serve needs shared by a spectrum of other cell types. Here we review clues from the literature and present new data supporting several possibilities for the significance of neuronal cilia. Our immunocytochemical results show regional heterogeneity in neuronal cilia. Brain regions nearer to the cerebral ventricles had longer cilia, suggesting that they might sense chemicals such as peptides, originating from cerebrospinal fluid. In mutant Tg737orpkmice, most brain regions appeared to be missing cilia. The importance of intraflagellar transport proteins establishes a functional link between neuronal cilia and other primary cilia.