Cilia-associated wound repair mediated by IFT88 in retinal pigment epithelium

Sci Rep. 2023 May 21;13(1):8205. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-35099-3.


Primary cilia are conserved organelles that integrate extracellular cues into intracellular signals and are critical for diverse processes, including cellular development and repair responses. Deficits in ciliary function cause multisystemic human diseases known as ciliopathies. In the eye, atrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is a common feature of many ciliopathies. However, the roles of RPE cilia in vivo remain poorly understood. In this study, we first found that mouse RPE cells only transiently form primary cilia. We then examined the RPE in the mouse model of Bardet-Biedl Syndrome 4 (BBS4), a ciliopathy associated with retinal degeneration in humans, and found that ciliation in BBS4 mutant RPE cells is disrupted early during development. Next, using a laser-induced injury model in vivo, we found that primary cilia in RPE reassemble in response to laser injury during RPE wound healing and then rapidly disassemble after the repair is completed. Finally, we demonstrated that RPE-specific depletion of primary cilia in a conditional mouse model of cilia loss promoted wound healing and enhanced cell proliferation. In summary, our data suggest that RPE cilia contribute to both retinal development and repair and provide insights into potential therapeutic targets for more common RPE degenerative diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cilia / physiology
  • Ciliopathies*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Retinal Degeneration*
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins


  • IFT88 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • BBS4 protein, mouse
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins

Supplementary concepts

  • Bardet-Biedl syndrome 4