Primary cilia control cellular patterning of Meibomian glands during morphogenesis but not lipid composition

Céline Portal, Yvonne Lin, Varuni Rastogi, Cornelia Peterson, Samuel Chi Hung Yiu, James W. Foster, Amber Wilkerson, Igor A. Butovich, Carlo Iomini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Meibomian glands (MGs) are modified sebaceous glands producing the tear film’s lipids. Despite their critical role in maintaining clear vision, the mechanisms underlying MG morphogenesis in development and disease remain obscure. Cilia-mediate signals are critical for the development of skin adnexa, including sebaceous glands. Thus, we investigated the role of cilia in MG morphogenesis during development. Most cells were ciliated during early MG development, followed by cilia disassembly during differentiation. In mature glands, ciliated cells were primarily restricted to the basal layer of the proximal gland central duct. Cilia ablation in keratine14-expressing tissue disrupted the accumulation of proliferative cells at the distal tip but did not affect the overall rate of proliferation or apoptosis. Moreover, impaired cellular patterning during elongation resulted in hypertrophy of mature MGs with increased meibum volume without altering its lipid composition. Thus, cilia signaling networks provide a new platform to design therapeutic treatments for MG dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number282
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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