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New research uncovers mechanism behind defective cilia

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - 9:48am

Through extraordinary imaging techniques and refined laboratory practices with a model organism, a UGA research team has published new evidence about the assembly of cell organelles in the human body:

Defective cilia can lead to a host of diseases and conditions in the human body—from rare, inherited bone malformations to blindness, male infertility, kidney disease and obesity. 

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a new study from University of Georgia cellular biologists shows the mechanism behind tubulin transport and its assembly into cilia, including the first video imagery of the process. The study was published in the Journal of Cell Biology.

"Cilia are found throughout the body, so defects in cilia formation affect cells that line airways, brain ventricles or the reproductive track," said the study's lead author Julie Craft, a sixth-year doctoral student at UGA. "One of the main causes of male infertility is the cilia won't function properly."

An interdisciplinary team from the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering collaborated on the research, which used total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to analyze moving protein particles inside the cilia of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a green alga widely used as a model for cilia analysis.

A great collaboration between cell biology and engineering, and we salute the tenacity of Dr. Lechtreck, who has become a leading expert in a field that is only growing in importance to medical research. The progress on the fundamental understanding provided by his lab will have broad implications for treating a variety of conditions and diseases.

Image: Karl Lechtreck in his lab.

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