Motile cilia are miniature, whip-like organelles whose beating generates a directional fluid flow. The flow generated by ciliated epithelia is a subject of great interest, as defective ciliary motility results in severe human diseases called motile ciliopathies. Despite the abundance of motile cilia in diverse organs including the nervous system, their role in organ development and homeostasis remains poorly understood. Recently, much progress has been made regarding the identity of motile ciliated cells and the role of motile-cilia-mediated flow in the development and physiology of the nervous system. In this review, we will discuss these recent advances from sensory organs, specifically the nose and the ear, to the spinal cord and brain ventricles. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue 'Unity and diversity of cilia in locomotion and transport'.
Keywords: Foxj1; cerebrospinal fluid; cilia; ependymal cell; nervous system; olfaction.