Primary cilia are specialized sensory antennae present on most cells of the mammalian body. We study primary cilia on pancreatic islet cells because disruption of primary cilia produces hormone secretion defects leading to glucose imbalance and diabetes. Our thesis is that primary cilia act as a sensor for local nutrients and paracrine cues to regulate islet function.  

Key questions:

  • What do cilia sense in the islet environment?
  • How do cilia transduce signals into the cell?
  • Defining islet cilia structure and composition
  • Diabetic phenotypes of islet cilia dysfunction

Key approaches and tool box:

  • genetic models of cilia disruption and diabetes
  • quantitative live-cell imaging
  • transmission and scanning electron microscopy
  • islet hormone secretion
  • omics when appropriate

Our work is supported by:

  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
  • The Human Islet Research Network (HIRN)
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DRC)
  • The Integrated Islet Distribution Program (IIDP)
  • Washington University Diabetes Research Center (WU DRC)