Diffusion of a soluble protein through a sensory cilium

Feb 22, 2010
Calvert et al. measured protein diffusion through a sensory cilium. Credit: Calvert, P.D. 2010. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.200910322.

A team of researchers led by Peter Calvert (SUNY Upstate Medical University) has, for the first time, measured the diffusion coefficient of a protein in a primary cilium and in other major compartments of a highly polarized cell. The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of General Physiology.

Transport of proteins to and from cilia is crucial for normal cell function and survival, and interruption of transport has been implicated in degenerative diseases and neoplastic diseases, such as cancer. Researchers believe that cilia impose selective barriers to the movement of proteins, but because of the narrow and complex structure of cilia—with diameters near or below the resolution of light microscopy—this hypothesis has been difficult to examine.

Using confocal and multiphoton microscopy, Calvert and his team—including William Schiesser (Lehigh University) and Edward Pugh (University of California, Davis)—measured the mobility of PAGFP (photoactivatable ) in the connecting cilium (CC) of retinal rod photoreceptors in frogs, as well as in the subcellular compartments bridged by the CC. In addition, the team measured the overall time for the protein concentration to equilibrate within and between compartments.

The results establish that the CC does not pose a major barrier to protein diffusion within the rod cell, but that the axial diffusion in each of the rod's compartments is substantially delayed relative to that in .

Explore further: Platelets modulate clotting behavior by 'feeling' their surroundings

More information: Calvert, P.D. 2010. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.200910322

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists study cilia -- microscopic hair

May 05, 2006

Texas scientists studying microscopic hairs called cilia say they found an internal structure that's responsible for a cell's response to external signals.

Some skin cancer may be mediated by primary cilia activity

Aug 23, 2009

Tiny, solitary spikes that stick out of nearly every cell in the body play a central role in a type of skin cancer, new research has found. The discovery in mice shows that the microscopic structures known as primary cilia ...

Recommended for you

A better way to track emerging cell therapies using MRIs

Sep 19, 2014

Cellular therapeutics – using intact cells to treat and cure disease – is a hugely promising new approach in medicine but it is hindered by the inability of doctors and scientists to effectively track the movements, destination ...

User comments : 0