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Journal Article

The cilium as a force sensor-myth versus reality


Vilfan,  Andrej       
Department of Living Matter Physics, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Ferreira, R. R., Fukui, H., Chow, R., Vilfan, A., & Vermot, J. (2019). The cilium as a force sensor-myth versus reality. Journal of Cell Science, 132(14): jcs213496. doi:10.1242/jcs.213496.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-5D33-B
Cells need to sense their mechanical environment during the growth of developing tissues and maintenance of adult tissues. The concept of force-sensing mechanisms that act through cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions is now well established and accepted. Additionally, it is widely believed that force sensing can be mediated through cilia. Yet, this hypothesis is still debated. By using primary cilia sensing as a paradigm, we describe the physical requirements for cilium-mediated mechanical sensing and discuss the different hypotheses of how this could work. We review the different mechanosensitive channels within the cilium, their potential mode of action and their biological implications. In addition, we describe the biological contexts in which cilia are acting - in particular, the left-right organizer - and discuss the challenges to discriminate between cilium-mediated chemosensitivity and mechanosensitivity. Throughout, we provide perspectives on how quantitative analysis and physics-based arguments might help to better understand the biological mechanisms by which cells use cilia to probe their mechanical environment.