The importance of model organisms to study cilia and flagella biology

Unité de Biologie Cellulaire des Trypanosomes, Institut Pasteur et CNRS URA 2581, 25 rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.
Biologie Aujourd'hui 01/2011; 205(1):5-28. DOI: 10.1051/jbio/2011005
Source: PubMed


Cilia and flagella are ubiquitous organelles that protrude from the surfaces of many cells, and whose architecture is highly conserved from protists to humans. These complex organelles, composed of over 500 proteins, can be either immotile or motile. They are involved in a myriad of biological processes, including sensing (non-motile cilia) and/or cell motility or movement of extracellular fluids (motile cilia). The ever-expanding list of human diseases linked to defective cilia illustrates the functional importance of cilia and flagella. These ciliopathies are characterised by an impressive diversity of symptoms and an often complex genetic etiology. A precise knowledge of cilia and flagella biology is thus critical to better understand these pathologies. However, multi-ciliated cells are terminally differentiated and difficult to manipulate, and a primary cilium is assembled only when the cell exits from the cell cycle. In this context the use of model organisms, that relies on the high degree of structural but also of molecular conservation of these organelles across evolution, is instrumental to decipher the many facets of cilia and flagella biology. In this review, we highlight the specific strengths of the main model organisms to investigate the molecular composition, mode of assembly, sensing and motility mechanisms and functions of cilia and flagella. Pioneering studies carried out in the green alga Chlamydomonas established the link between cilia and several genetic diseases. Moreover, multicellular organisms such as mouse, zebrafish, Xenopus, C. elegans or Drosophila, and protists like Paramecium, Tetrahymena and Trypanosoma or Leishmania each bring specific advantages to the study of cilium biology. For example, the function of genes involved in primary ciliary dyskinesia (due to defects in ciliary motility) can be efficiently assessed in trypanosomes.

27 Reads
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In this review, we propose a new classification of vertebrate cilia/flagella and discuss the evolution and prototype of cilia. Cilia/flagella are evolutionarily well-conserved membranous organelles in eukaryotes and serve a variety of functions, including motility and sensation. Vertebrate cilia have been traditionally classified into conventional motile cilia and sensory primary cilia. However, an avalanche of emerging evidence on the variations of cilia has made it almost impossible to classify them in a simple dichotomic manner. For example, conventional motile cilia are also involved in the sensation of bitter taste to facilitate the beating of cilia as a defense system of the respiratory system. On the other hand, the primary cilium, often regarded as a non-motile sensory organelle, has been revealed to be motile in vertebrate embryonic nodes, where they play a crucial role in the determination of left-right asymmetry of the body. Moreover, choroid plexus epithelial cells in the cerebral ventricular system exhibit multiple primary cilia on a single cell. Considering these lines of evidence on the diversity of cilia, we believe the classification of cilia should be based on their structure and function, and include more detailed criteria. Another intriguing issue is how in the evolution of cilia, their function and morphology are combined. For example, has motility been acquired from originally sensory cilia, or vice versa? Alternatively, were they originally hybrid in nature? These questions are inseparable from the classification of cilia per se. We would like to address these conundrums in this review article, principally from the standpoint of differentiation of the animal cell.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2011 · Differentiation