On September 23, Jing Hughes, MD, PhD and colleagues published their research titled “Islet primary cilia motility controls insulin secretion” in Science Advances.
“Primary cilia are thought of as immotile, mainly due to the lack of evidence of molecular motors. We have now found a missing link that explains why some primary cilia could, in fact, be motile.”
Using high-resolution light and electron microscopy, Hughes and colleagues found evidence of dynein and other motor proteins in human islet cilia. These surprising findings were accompanied by the observation that primary cilia on islet beta cells exhibit active movement, a behavior that depends on the cell’s energy level.
Taking away ciliary movement hurts the beta cell’s ability to secrete insulin, suggesting that motility is a core property of beta cell cilia that allows them to function as glucose sensors and communication devices.
“These findings have implications for re-defining cilia taxonomy but also opens new dimensions for us to study primary cilia function.”
This study was a collaboration with Phil Bayly’s group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science on the Danforth campus.
Learn more about Hughes Lab here.