PKD results from defects in the primary cilium, an immotile, hair-like cellular organelle present on the surface of most cells in the body, anchored in the cell body by the basal body. In the kidney, primary cilia have been found to be present on most cells of the nephron, projecting from the apical surface of the renal epithelium into the tubule lumen. The cilia were believed to bend in the urine flow, leading to changes in signalling, however this has since been shown to be an experimental error (the bending of cilia was an artifact of focal plane compensation, and also the actual effect on micturition by severe hypertension and cardiac arrest) and that bending of cilia does not contribute to alterations in Ca flux. While it is not known how defects in the primary cilium lead to cyst development, it is thought to possibly be related to disruption of one of the many signaling pathways regulated by the primary cilium, including intracellular calcium, Wnt/β-catenin, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), or planar cell polarity (PCP). Function of the primary cilium is impaired, resulting in disruption of a number of intracellular signaling cascades which produce differentiation of cystic epithelium, increased cell division, increased apoptosis, and loss of resorptive capacity.
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