Mechanical load plays a significant role in bone and growth-plate development. Chondrocytes sense and respond to mechanical stimulation; however, the mechanisms by which those signals exert their effects are not fully understood. The primary cilium has been identified as a mechano-sensor in several cell types, including renal epithelial cells and endothelium, and accumulating evidence connects it to mechano-transduction in chondrocytes. In the growth plate, the primary cilium is involved in several regulatory pathways, such as the non-canonical Wnt and Indian Hedgehog. Moreover, it mediates cell shape, orientation, growth, and differentiation in the growth plate. In this work, we show that mechanical load enhances ciliogenesis in the growth plate. This leads to alterations in the expression and localization of key members of the Ihh-PTHrP loop resulting in decreased proliferation and an abnormal switch from proliferation to differentiation, together with abnormal chondrocyte morphology and organization. Moreover, we use the chondrogenic cell line ATDC5, a model for growth-plate chondrocytes, to understand the mechanisms mediating the participation of the primary cilium, and in particular KIF3A, in the cell's response to mechanical stimulation. We show that this key component of the cilium mediates gene expression in response to mechanical stimulation.
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