The Hedgehog's spine
The primary cilium, a lone spiky protrusion on the cell surface, once was thought to be a functionless vestige of humankind's unicellular past. However, genetic defects in the primary cilium turned out to be linked to polycystic kidney disease and certain birth defects. Now, new studies from two independent teams at the University of California, San Francisco, implicate the primary cilium in a well-known cancer pathway-Hedgehog signaling.1,2
In addition to providing a rationale for targeting the primary cilium in cancer, the findings could help companies identify patients who may respond well to Hedgehog (Hh) signaling inhibitors.