The essential role of primary (non-motile) cilia during the development of multi-cellular tissues and organs is well established and is underlined by severe disease manifestations caused by mutations in cilia-associated molecules that are collectively termed ciliopathies. However, the role of primary cilia in non-dividing and terminally differentiated, post-mitotic cells is less well understood. Although the prevention of cells from re-entering the cell cycle may represent a major chore, primary cilia have recently been linked to DNA damage responses, autophagy and mitochondria. Given this connectivity, primary cilia in non-dividing cells are well positioned to form a signaling hub outside of the nucleus. Such a center could integrate information to initiate responses and to maintain cellular homeostasis if cell survival is jeopardized. These more discrete functions may remain undetected until differentiated cells are confronted with emergencies.
Keywords: Autophagy; Ciliopathy; DNA damage response; Mitochondria; mTOR.