Scientific reports

Identification of Elongated Primary Cilia with Impaired Mechanotransduction in Idiopathic Scoliosis Patients.

PMID 28290481


The primary cilium is an outward projecting antenna-like organelle with an important role in bone mechanotransduction. The capacity to sense mechanical stimuli can affect important cellular and molecular aspects of bone tissue. Idiopathic scoliosis (IS) is a complex pediatric disease of unknown cause, defined by abnormal spinal curvatures. We demonstrate significant elongation of primary cilia in IS patient bone cells. In response to mechanical stimulation, these IS cells differentially express osteogenic factors, mechanosensitive genes, and signaling genes. Considering that numerous ciliary genes are associated with a scoliosis phenotype, among ciliopathies and knockout animal models, we expected IS patients to have an accumulation of rare variants in ciliary genes. Instead, our SKAT-O analysis of whole exomes showed an enrichment among IS patients for rare variants in genes with a role in cellular mechanotransduction. Our data indicates defective cilia in IS bone cells, which may be linked to heterogeneous gene variants pertaining to cellular mechanotransduction.