Tissue expression patterns identify mouse cilia genes

Timothy S. McClintock, Chad E. Glasser, Soma C. Bose, Daniel A. Bergman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


In mammals, cilia are critical for development, sensation, cell signaling, sperm motility, and fluid movement. Defects in cilia are causes of several congenital syndromes, providing additional reasons to identify cilia-related genes. We hypothesized that mRNAs selectively abundant in tissues rich in highly ciliated cells encode cilia proteins. Selective abundance in olfactory epithelium, testes, vomeronasal organ, trachea, and lung proved to be an expression pattern uniquely effective in identifying documented cilia-related genes. Known and suspected cilia-related genes were statistically overrepresented among the 99 genes identified, but the majority encoded proteins of unknown function, thereby predicting new cilia-related proteins. Evidence of expression in a highly ciliated cell, the olfactory sensory neuron, exists for 73 of the genes. In situ hybridization for 17 mRNAs confirmed expression of all 17 in olfactory sensory neurons. Most were also detected in vomeronasal sensory neurons and in neighboring tissues rich in ciliated cells such as respiratory epithelium. Immunoreactivity for one of the proteins identified, Spa17, colocalized with acetylated tubulin in the cilia layer of the olfactory epithelium. In contrast, the ciliary rootlet protein, Crocc, was located in discrete structures whose position was consistent with the dendritic knobs of the olfactory sensory neurons. A compilation of >2,000 mouse genes predicted to encode cilia-related proteins revealed a strong correlation (R = 0.99) between the number of studies predicting a gene's involvement in cilia and documented evidence of such involvement, a fact that simplifies the selection of genes for further study of the physiology of cilia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-206
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 17 2008


  • Bioinformatics
  • Coiled-coil domain
  • Gene expression
  • Olfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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