An intelligent nano-antenna: Primary cilium harnesses TRP channels to decode polymodal stimuli

Siew Cheng Phua, Yu Chun Lin, Takanari Inoue

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The primary cilium is a solitary hair-like organelle on the cell surface that serves as an antenna sensing ever-changing environmental conditions. In this review, we will first recapitulate the molecular basis of the polymodal sensory function of the primary cilia, specifically focusing on transient receptor potential (TRP) channels that accumulate inside the organelle and conduct calcium ions (Ca2+). Each subfamily member, namely TRPP2 TRPP3, TRPC1 and TRPV4, is gated by multiple environmental factors, including chemical (receptor ligands, intracellular second messengers such as Ca2+), mechanical (fluid shear stress, hypo-osmotic swelling), or physical (temperature, voltage) stimuli. Both activity and heterodimer compositions of the TRP channels may be dynamically regulated for precise tuning to the varying dynamic ranges of the individual input stimuli. We will thus discuss the potential regulation of TRP channels by local second messengers. Despite its reported importance in embryonic patterning and tissue morphogenesis, the precise functional significance of the downstream Ca2+ signals of the TRP channels remains unknown. We will close our review by featuring recent technological advances in visualizing and analyzing signal transduction inside the primary cilia, together with current perspectives illuminating the functional significance of intraciliary Ca2+ signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalCell Calcium
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Cilium-targeted Ca indicators
  • Local Casignals
  • Polymodal sensitivity
  • Primary cilium
  • TRPC1
  • TRPP2
  • TRPP3
  • TRPV4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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