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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2010 Feb;20(1):58-67. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.12.002. Epub 2010 Jan 14.

Role of primary cilia in brain development and cancer.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, The Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, University of California at San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94143-0112, USA.


The primary cilium, a hair-like extension from a cell's surface, acts as a sensory organelle to receive signals that regulate cellular behavior and physiology. Like most mammalian cells, neural progenitors and neurons have primary cilia. Recent studies show that this tiny projection plays important roles in brain development and diseases. Ciliary mutant mice show defects in brain patterning, progenitor proliferation, and specification of adult neural stem cells. Primary cilia also have dual opposing functions in the development of brain tumors. Ciliary defects are associated with genetic syndromes that frequently have neurological symptoms. Understanding the multifaceted roles that primary cilia have in brain development will provide important insights into the mechanism of brain development and diseases.

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