Keeping the balance between proliferation and differentiation: the primary cilium.
Primary cilia are post-mitotic cellular organelles that are present in the vast majority of cell types in the human body. An extensive body of data gathered in recent years is demonstrating a crucial role for this organelle in a number of cellular processes that include mechano and chemo-sensation as well as the transduction of signaling cascades critical for the development and maintenance of different tissues and organs. Consequently, cilia are currently viewed as cellular antennae playing a critical role at the interphase between cells and their environment, integrating a range of stimuli to modulate cell fate decisions including cell proliferation, migration and differentiation. Importantly, this regulatory role is not just a consequence of their participation in signal transduction but is also the outcome of both the tight synchronization/regulation of ciliogenesis with the cell cycle and the role of individual ciliary proteins in cilia-dependent and independent processes. Here we review the role of primary cilia in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation and illustrate how this knowledge has provided insight to understand the phenotypic consequences of ciliary dysfunction.