Localization of extracellular matrix receptors on the chondrocyte primary cilium

J Histochem Cytochem. 2006 Sep;54(9):1005-14. doi: 10.1369/jhc.5A6866.2006. Epub 2006 May 1.


A single primary cilium is found in chondrocytes and other connective tissue cells. We have previously shown that extracellular matrix (ECM) macromolecules such as collagen fibers closely associate with chondrocyte primary cilia, and their points of contact are characterized by electron-opaque plaques suggesting a direct link between the ECM and the cilium. This study examines the expression of receptors for ECM molecules on chondrocyte primary cilia. Embryonic chick sterna were fluorescently labeled with antibodies against alpha and beta integrins, NG2, CD44, and annexin V. Primary cilia were labeled using acetylated alpha-tubulin antibody. Expression of ECM receptors was examined on chondrocyte plasma membranes and their primary cilia using immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy. All receptors examined showed a punctate distribution on the plasma membrane. alpha2, alpha3, and beta1 integrins and NG2 were also present on primary cilia, whereas annexin V and CD44 were excluded. The number of receptor-positive cilia varied from 8/50 for NG2 to 43/50 for beta1 integrin. This is the first study to demonstrate the expression of integrins and NG2 on chondrocyte primary cilia. The data strongly suggest that chondrocyte primary cilia have the necessary machinery to act as mechanosensors, linking the ECM to cytoplasmic organelles responsible for matrix production and secretion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Annexin A5 / metabolism*
  • Antigens / metabolism*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cilia / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Integrin alpha Chains / metabolism
  • Integrin beta Chains / metabolism
  • Integrins / metabolism*
  • Ligands
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism*


  • Annexin A5
  • Antigens
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Integrin alpha Chains
  • Integrin beta Chains
  • Integrins
  • Ligands
  • Proteoglycans
  • chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4