A Physiological View of the Primary Cilium

Annu Rev Physiol. 2005;67:515-29. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.67.040403.101353.


The primary cilium, an organelle largely ignored by physiologists, functions both as a mechano-sensor and a chemo-sensor in renal tubular epithelia. This forgotten structure is critically involved in the determination of left-right sidedness during development and is a key factor in the development of polycystic kidney disease, as well as a number of other abnormalities. This review provides an update of our current understanding about the function of primary cilia. Much new information obtained in the past five years has been stimulated, in part, by discoveries of the primary cilium's key role in the genesis of polycystic kidney disease as well as its involvement in determination of left-right axis asymmetry. Here we focus on the various functions of the primary cilium rather than on its role in pathology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Cilia / metabolism
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Kidney / ultrastructure
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology