Cilia are antenna-like extensions of the plasma membrane found in nearly all cell types. In the retina of the eye, photoreceptors develop unique sensory cilia. Not much was known about the mechanisms underlying the formation and function of photoreceptor cilia, largely because of technical limitations and the specific structural and functional modifications that cannot be modeled in vitro
. With recent advances in microscopy techniques and molecular and biochemical approaches, we are now beginning to understand the molecular basis of photoreceptor ciliary architecture, ciliary function and its involvement in human diseases. Here, I will discuss the studies that have revealed new knowledge of how photoreceptor cilia regulate their identity and function while coping with high metabolic and trafficking demands associated with processing light signal.
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