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Shedding of ciliary vesicles at a glance


Cilia sense and transduce sensory stimuli, homeostatic cues and developmental signals by orchestrating signaling reactions. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) that bud from the ciliary membrane have well-studied roles in the disposal of excess ciliary material, most dramatically exemplified by the shedding of micrometer-sized blocks by photoreceptors. Shedding of EVs by cilia also affords cells with a powerful means to shorten cilia. Finally, cilium-derived EVs may enable cell-cell communication in a variety of organisms, ranging from single-cell parasites and algae to nematodes and vertebrates. Mechanistic understanding of EV shedding by cilia is an active area of study, and future progress may open the door to testing the function of ciliary EV shedding in physiological contexts. In this Cell Science at a Glance and the accompanying poster, we discuss the molecular mechanisms that drive the shedding of ciliary material into the extracellular space, the consequences of shedding for the donor cell and the possible roles that ciliary EVs may have in cell non-autonomous contexts.

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