Author(s): Moser JJ, Fritzler MJ, Rattner JB
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Primary cilia are non-motile sensory cytoplasmic organelles that have been implicated in signal transduction, cell to cell communication, left and right pattern embryonic development, sensation of fluid flow, regulation of calcium levels, mechanosensation, growth factor signaling and cell cycle progression. Defects in the formation and/or function of these structures underlie a variety of human diseases such as Alström, Bardet-Biedl, Joubert, Meckel-Gruber and oral-facial-digital type 1 syndromes. The expression and function of primary cilia in cancer cells has now become a focus of attention but has not been studied in astrocytomas/glioblastomas. To begin to address this issue, we compared the structure and expression of primary cilia in a normal human astrocyte cell line with five human astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines. METHODS: Cultured normal human astrocytes and five human astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines were examined for primary cilia expression and structure using indirect immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. Monospecific antibodies were used to detect primary cilia and map the relationship between the primary cilia region and sites of endocytosis. RESULTS: We show that expression of primary cilia in normal astrocytes is cell cycle related and the primary cilium extends through the cell within a unique structure which we show to be a site of endocytosis. Importantly, we document that in each of the five astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines fully formed primary cilia are either expressed at a very low level, are completely absent or have aberrant forms, due to incomplete ciliogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: The recent discovery of the importance of primary cilia in a variety of cell functions raises the possibility that this structure may have a role in a variety of cancers. Our finding that the formation of the primary cilium is disrupted in cells derived from astrocytoma/glioblastoma tumors provides the first evidence that altered primary cilium expression and function may be part of some malignant phenotypes. Further, we provide the first evidence that ciliogenesis is not an all or none process; rather defects can arrest this process at various points, particularly at the stage subsequent to basal body association with the plasma membrane.
This article was published in BMC Cancer
and referenced in Journal of Cell Science & Therapy