Primary cilia are sensory organelles that transmit extracellular signals into intracellular biochemical responses. Structural and functional defects in primary cilia are associated with a group of human diseases, known as ciliopathies, with phenotypes ranging from cystic kidney and obesity to blindness and mental retardation. Primary cilia mediate mechano- and chemosensation in many cell types. The mechanosensory function of the primary cilia requires the atypical G-protein-coupled receptor polycystin-1 and the calcium-permeable nonselective cation channel polycystin-2. Mechanical stimulations such as fluid-shear stress of the primary cilia initiate intracellular calcium rise, nitric oxide release, and protein modifications. In this review, we describe a set of protocols for cell culture to promote ciliation, mechanical stimulations of the primary cilia, and measurements of calcium rise and nitric oxide release induced by fluid shear stress.
Nauli SM, Jin X, AbouAlaiwi WA, El-Jouni W, Su X, Zhou J. Non-motile primary cilia as fluid shear stress mechanosensors. Methods Enzymol. 2013;525:1-20. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-397944-5.00001-8