Research ArticleBIOPHYSICS

Primary cilia as the nexus of biophysical and hedgehog signaling at the tendon enthesis

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Science Advances  30 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 44, eabc1799
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc1799


The tendon enthesis is a fibrocartilaginous tissue critical for transfer of muscle forces to bone. Enthesis pathologies are common, and surgical repair of tendon to bone is plagued by high failure rates. At the root of these failures is a gap in knowledge of how the tendon enthesis is formed and maintained. We tested the hypothesis that the primary cilium is a hub for transducing biophysical and hedgehog (Hh) signals to regulate tendon enthesis formation and adaptation to loading. Primary cilia were necessary for enthesis development, and cilia assembly was coincident with Hh signaling and enthesis mineralization. Cilia responded inversely to loading; increased loading led to decreased cilia and decreased loading led to increased cilia. Enthesis responses to loading were dependent on Hh signaling through cilia. Results imply a role for tendon enthesis primary cilia as mechanical responders and Hh signal transducers, providing a therapeutic target for tendon enthesis pathologies.

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