Understanding ciliated epithelia: the power of Xenopus

Genesis. 2012 Mar;50(3):176-85. doi: 10.1002/dvg.20824. Epub 2011 Dec 27.


Ciliated epithelia are important in a wide variety of biological contexts where they generate directed fluid flow. Here we address the fundamental advances in understanding ciliated epithelia that have been achieved using Xenopus as a model system. Xenopus embryos are covered with a ciliated epithelium that propels fluid unidirectionally across their surface. The external nature of this tissue, coupled with the molecular tools available in Xenopus and the ease of microscopic analysis on intact animals has thrust Xenopus to the forefront of ciliated epithelia biology. We discuss advances in understanding the molecular regulators of ciliated epithelia cell fate as well as basic aspects of ciliated epithelia cell biology including ciliogenesis and cell polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cilia / metabolism*
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Epithelium / metabolism*
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Xenopus / embryology
  • Xenopus / metabolism*