Maintaining protein composition in cilia

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The primary cilium is a sensory organelle that is vital in regulating several signalling pathways. Unlike most organelles cilia are open to the rest of the cell, not enclosed by membranes. The distinct protein composition is crucial to the function of cilia and many signalling proteins and receptors are specifically concentrated within distinct compartments. To maintain this composition, a mechanism is required to deliver proteins to the cilium whilst another must counter the entropic tendency of proteins to distribute throughout the cell. The combination of the two mechanisms should result in the concentration of ciliary proteins to the cilium. In this review we will look at different cellular mechanisms that play a role in maintaining the distinct composition of cilia, including regulation of ciliary access and trafficking of ciliary proteins to, from and within the cilium.

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