Cilia – hair-like projections on certain cells – make proteins locally that sustain their ultrastructure and functions
Like outstretched arms, cilia project themselves outwards from the body of a cell and are vital for moving fluids and sensing stimuli. Due to their distance from the heart of the cell where proteins are made, it’s thought that any required proteins are transported to them. However, researchers now show, using fluorescence microscopy (pictured) and RNA analysis of mouse cells with multiple cilia (multicilia), that cilia can make proteins locally. They found that multicilia contain large amounts of protein-making machinery, as well as mRNA, the template for making proteins. What's more, they found that the mRNA-binding protein Fmrp is located in the central part of cilia (left and red) and is involved in delivering mRNA to the rest of the cilia (middle and green). Depleting Fmrp disrupted local protein production in cilia and caused multicilia to degenerate, hinting at the potential importance of protein production in cilia-related diseases.
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