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Primary Cilia and Cancer

Guest edited by Young-Goo Han.

Cell-extrinsic signals and intrinsic cell cycle regulators strictly control cell proliferation. Cancers develop from a cell that escapes these tight controls and proliferates unrestrictedly. The primary cilium critically controls proliferation by mediating cell-extrinsic signals and by regulating cell cycle entry. Recent studies show that primary cilia and proteins associated with them also function in autophagy and genome stability, which are important players in oncogenesis. Thus, normal or abnormal functions of primary cilia may contribute to oncogenesis. Consistently, defective cilia can either promote or suppress cancers, depending on the cancer-initiating mutation, and presence or absence of primary cilia is associated with specific cancer types. Together, these findings suggest that primary cilia play central but distinct roles in different cancer types, opening up a completely new avenue of research to understand the biology and treatment of cancers. In a special thematic series titled “Primary Cilia and Cancer”, we will discuss the roles of primary cilia in promoting or inhibiting oncogenesis based on known or predicted functions of cilia and cilia-associated proteins in several key processes that are important for normal development/homeostasis, including the function of cilia in signaling pathways, cell cycle progression, genome stability, and autophagy. 

This collection of articles has not been sponsored and articles have undergone the journal’s standard peer review process. The Guest Editors declare no competing interests.

View all collections published in Cilia.


  1. Content type: Review

    Cancer cells are distinguished from normal cells by increased proliferation and metabolism, loss of polarity control, and the potential to invade other tissues of the body. As hubs of signaling transduction, p...

    Authors: Muqing Cao and Qing Zhong

    Citation: Cilia 2016 5:4

    Published on:

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