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Hughes Lab publishes research on primary cilia’s role in insulin secretion

Hughes Lab; Featured from left to right: Eun Young Lee, Lifei Zhu, Alex Li, Jing W. Hughes, Bella Melena, Samantha Adamson and Jeong Hun Jo.

On December 14, Jing W. Hughes, MD, PhD and Hughes Lab members had their research titled, “Islet primary cilia motility controls insulin secretion,” published in “bioRxiv.”  

“Primary cilia are specialized cell-surface organelles that mediate sensory perception and, in contrast to motile cilia and flagella, are thought to lack motility function.” People with type 2 diabetes contain beta cells that have altered expression of cilia motility genes. The study was intended to define the role that pancreatic beta cell cilia movement plays in controlling insulin secretion by studying real-time behavior of primary cilia in islet beta cells.  

The Hughes Lab conducted an ultrastructural examination of the beta cell cilium within specially generated beta cell cilia GFP reporter mice, revealing spontaneous movement of beta cell cilia in intact islets. Their observations indicate that “active cilia motility may have evolved as a nutrient-seeking behavior to augment the detection of glucose.” 

These findings “redefine primary cilia as dynamic structures possessing both sensory and motile function and establish that pancreatic beta cell cilia movement plays a critical role in controlling insulin secretion.” Not only that, but the study confirms that glucose-dependent insulin secretion requires this exhibited movement of primary cilia in pancreatic beta cells. 

Islet primary cilia motility controls insulin secretion