Primary cilium remodeling mediates a cell signaling switch in differentiating neurons

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Science Advances  20 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 21, eabb0601
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb0601


Cellular differentiation leads to the formation of specialized cell types and complex morphological variations. Often, differentiating cells transition between states by switching how they respond to the signaling environment. However, the mechanisms regulating these transitions are poorly understood. Differentiating neurons delaminate from the neuroepithelium through the regulated process of apical abscission, which mediates an acute loss of polarity and primary cilium disassembly. Using high-resolution live-cell imaging in chick neural tube, we show that these cells retain an Arl13b+ particle, which elongates and initiates intraflagellar trafficking as it transits toward the cell body, indicating primary cilium remodeling. Notably, disrupting cilia during and after remodeling inhibits axon extension and leads to axon collapse, respectively. Furthermore, cilium remodeling corresponds to a switch from a canonical to noncanonical cellular response to Shh. This work transforms our understanding of how cells can rapidly reinterpret signals to produce qualitatively different responses within the same tissue context.

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