The primary cilium is a self-adaptable, integrating nexus for mechanical stimuli and cellular signaling

An M. Nguyen, Y. N. Young, Christopher R. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Mechanosensation is crucial for cells to sense and respond to mechanical signals within their local environment. While adaptation allows a sensor to be conditioned by stimuli within the environment and enables its operation in a wide range of stimuli intensities, the mechanisms behind adaptation remain controversial in even the most extensively studied mechanosensor, bacterial mechanosensitive channels. Primary cilia are ubiquitous sensory organelles. They have emerged as mechanosensors across diverse tissues, including kidney, liver and the embryonic node, and deflect with mechanical stimuli. Here, we show that both mechanical and chemical stimuli can alter cilium stiffness. We found that exposure to flow stiffens the cilium, which deflects less in response to subsequent exposures to flow. We also found that through a process involving acetylation, the cell can biochemically regulate cilium stiffness. Finally, we show that this altered stiffness directly affects the responsiveness of the cell to mechanical signals. These results demonstrate a potential mechanism through which the cell can regulate its mechanosensing apparatus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1733-1738
Number of pages6
JournalBiology Open
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Acetylation
  • Adaptation
  • Mechanosensing
  • Primary cilia


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