Investigation of the role Cnk2p plays in ciliary length control

Eukaryotic cilia are membrane-bound organelles in cells known for their function to propel cells (such as sperm cells), or move fluid over a cellular surface (such as respiratory epithelial cells in the lungs). More recently, researchers have looked more closely at immotile (unmoving) primary cilia which are found on almost all terminally differentiated mammalian cells (mature cells that no longer grow). Previously believed to have no function, immotile primary cilia have now been shown to have significant signalling roles and are gaining recognition as sensory organelles. A series of recent discoveries has pointed to the idea that the cilia found in tubular epithelial cells of the kidneys are required for maintaining the differentiation of kidney tubules, and that the loss of this function results in Polycystic Kidney Disease, a common human genetic disease also found in other species. Focusing on one member of a family of proteins known as the NIMA-related kinases, Brian Bradley is studying the connections between cilia, the processes by which they are assembled, and cell division. He hopes his work can lead to a better understanding of the role of cilia in human health and disease.