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Patient-derived cellular models of primary ciliopathies

Abstract

Primary ciliopathies are rare inherited disorders caused by structural or functional defects in the primary cilium, a subcellular organelle present on the surface of most cells. Primary ciliopathies show considerable clinical and genetic heterogeneity, with disruption of over 100 genes causing the variable involvement of several organs, including the central nervous system, kidneys, retina, skeleton and liver. Pathogenic variants in one and the same gene may associate with a wide range of ciliopathy phenotypes, supporting the hypothesis that the individual genetic background, with potential additional variants in other ciliary genes, may contribute to a mutational load eventually determining the phenotypic manifestations of each patient. Functional studies in animal models have uncovered some of the pathophysiological mechanisms linking ciliary gene mutations to the observed phenotypes; yet, the lack of reliable human cell models has previously limited preclinical research and the development of new therapeutic strategies for primary ciliopathies. Recent technical advances in the generation of patient-derived two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) cellular models give a new spur to this research, allowing the study of pathomechanisms while maintaining the complexity of the genetic background of each patient, and enabling the development of innovative treatments to target specific pathways. This review provides an overview of available models for primary ciliopathies, from existing in vivo models to more recent patient-derived 2D and 3D in vitro models. We highlight the advantages of each model in understanding the functional basis of primary ciliopathies and facilitating novel regenerative medicine, gene therapy and drug testing strategies for these disorders.

  • genetic research
  • genetics
  • medical

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