A chemical screen identifies class a g-protein coupled receptors as regulators of cilia

ACS Chem Biol. 2012 May 18;7(5):911-9. doi: 10.1021/cb200349v. Epub 2012 Mar 8.


Normal cilia length and motility are critical for proper cellular function. Prior studies of the regulation of ciliary structure and length have primarily focused on the intraflagellar transport machinery and motor proteins required for ciliary assembly and disassembly. However, several mutants with abnormal length flagella highlight the importance of signaling proteins as well. In this study, an unbiased chemical screen was performed to uncover signaling pathways that are critical for ciliogenesis and length regulation using flagella of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model. The annotated Sigma LOPAC1280 chemical library was screened for effects on flagellar length, motility, and severing as well as cell viability. Assay data were clustered to identify pathways regulating flagella. The most frequent target found to be involved in flagellar length regulation was the family of dopamine binding G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). In mammalian cells, cilium length could indeed be altered with expression of the dopamine D1 receptor. Our screen thus reveals signaling pathways that are potentially critical for ciliary formation, resorption, and length maintenance, which represent candidate targets for therapeutic intervention of disorders involving ciliary malformation and malfunction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / cytology
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / drug effects
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism*
  • Cilia / drug effects
  • Cilia / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Small Molecule Libraries / pharmacology


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Small Molecule Libraries