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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e27058. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027058. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

Chronic fluid flow is an environmental modifier of renal epithelial function.

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Department of Physics, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America.


Although solitary or sensory cilia are present in most cells of the body and their existence has been known since the sixties, very little is been known about their functions. One suspected function is fluid flow sensing- physical bending of cilia produces an influx of Ca(++), which can then result in a variety of activated signaling pathways. Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) is a progressive disease, typically appearing in the 5(th) decade of life and is one of the most common monogenetic inherited human diseases, affecting approximately 600,000 people in the United States. Because ADPKD is a slowly progressing disease, I asked how fluid flow may act, via the primary cilium, to alter epithelial physiology during the course of cell turnover. I performed an experiment to determine under what conditions fluid flow can result in a change of function of renal epithelial tissue. A wildtype epithelial cell line derived the cortical collecting duct of a heterozygous offspring of the Immortomouse (Charles River Laboratory) was selected as our model system. Gentle orbital shaking was used to induce physiologically relevant fluid flow, and periodic measurements of the transepithelial Sodium current were performed. At the conclusion of the experiment, mechanosensitive proteins of interest were visualized by immunostaining. I found that fluid flow, in itself, modifies the transepithelial sodium current, cell proliferation, and the actin cytoskeleton. These results significantly impact the understanding of both the mechanosensation function of primary cilia as well as the understanding of ADPKD disease progression.

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