Polycystin-1: function as a mechanosensor

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2010 Oct;42(10):1610-3. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2010.06.017. Epub 2010 Jun 25.


Polycystin-1 (PC1), encoded by the Pkd1 gene, is a large transmembrane protein whose mutation is involved in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. When expressed, PC1 activates a G-protein signaling pathway that subsequently modulates Ca(2+) channels. PC1 is highly expressed in developing tissue and via its C-terminus tail forms a complex with polycystin-2; this complex, found to be located at the primary cilia, seems to act as a mechanosensor that could affect proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis of cells. Also, loss of polycystins correlates with disruption of flow-dependent and steady-state intracellular Ca(2+) signaling. Despite the lack of clarity on the role of the polycystins as mechanosensor molecules, a new interest in this PCs/primary cilium complex is providing continuously new insights. In this review, some of the known features of PC1 such as structure, function, signaling pathways involved and its role as a possible therapeutic target are being discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cilia / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Mechanoreceptors / metabolism*
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / genetics*
  • TRPP Cation Channels / genetics
  • TRPP Cation Channels / metabolism*
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • TRPP Cation Channels
  • polycystic kidney disease 1 protein