Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Sign Hair

How the development and activity of olfactory cilia – the hairs on cells involved in sense of smell is regulated

08 February 2022

Sign Hair

Like your bold new haircut sends a message to all around you, tiny hairs on the surface of cells send and receive messages to and from their neighbours and environment. These structures – cilia – are ubiquitous and when their development falters all manner of serious conditions around the body result. Recent research has improved understanding of how cilia take shape, but how and when key receptor components slot in is still poorly understood. A study investigated cilia on sensory cells involved in smell (visible around the developing fruit fly larva section pictured), and discovered that Orco, an odour receptor on the cilia, specifically slots in at a precise moment of development. It is escorted into place at just the right time by a motor protein known to drive cilia formation. These details about the tight regulation reveal fundamental properties of cilia production, which could ultimately help prevent it going wrong.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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