Cilia and the Cell Cycle: Dissecting an enigmatic relationship.

Most of the cells in the human body are ciliated – they have tiny hair-like projections. Some of these cilia are tiny and immotile, while others are highly modified, nevertheless, they are critical to the proper functioning of the cell. Over the past dozen years, science has learned that a number of human diseases, including polycystic kidney diseases, Bardet-Beidl syndrome, and various forms of retinal degeneration are caused by defective cilia.

Research in the Quarmby lab is rooted in studies of calcium signaling and microtubule dynamics. Until recently, we were focused solely on understanding the mechanism by which cells shed their cilia (aka flagella) in response to stress. Through our work on the mechanism of deflagellation in the unicellular alga, Chlamydomonas, we discovered intriguing relationships between deflagellation, flagellar/ciliary assembly and the cell cycle. We continue to use the awesome power of Chlamydomonas genetics, biochemistry and cell biology to study deflagellation, but now we also study how cells reabsorb their cilia prior to cell division. This process is shown in the time-lapse movie to the right, by prior Quarmby lab Ph.D. student, Moe Mahjoub.