FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Pericentrin, a centrosomal protein related to microcephalic primordial dwarfism, is required for olfactory cilia assembly in mice.

PMID 19470799


The Drosophila pericentrin-like protein has been shown to be essential for the formation of the sensory cilia of chemosensory and mechanosensory neurons by mutant analysis in flies, while the in vivo function of pericentrin, a well-studied mammalian centrosomal protein related to microcephalic primordial dwarfism, has been unclear. To determine whether pericentrin is required for ciliogenesis in mammals, we generated and analyzed mice with a hypomorphic mutation of Pcnt encoding the mouse pericentrin. Immunofluorescence analysis demonstrated that olfactory cilia of chemosensory neurons in the nasal olfactory epithelium were malformed in the homozygous mutant mice. On the other hand, the assembly of motile and primary cilia of non-neuronal epithelial cells and the formation of sperm flagella were not affected in the Pcnt-mutant mice. The defective assembly of olfactory cilia in the mutant was apparent from birth. The mutant animals displayed reduced olfactory performance in agreement with the compromised assembly of olfactory cilia. Our findings suggest that pericentrin is essential for the assembly of chemosensory cilia of olfactory receptor neurons, but it is not globally required for cilia formation in mammals.