Motile cilia provide propulsion, and immotile ones are enriched with receptors. Both are required to establish left-right identity in the developing embryo and are also implicated in a wide range of human diseases. Abnormalities in cilial function underlie heterotaxy congenital heart disease (CHD) occurring in individuals with laterality disturbance. Mitochondrial function and cellular energetics, through mTOR and autophagy, are now linked with cilial function, revealing new mechanisms and candidate genes for syndromic human disease. In the current issue of the JCI, Burkhalter et al. ask the question: Can mitochondrial disturbances produce ciliopathy and does this explain some cases of heterotaxy?
Bill Chaudhry, Deborah J. Henderson