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Targeting the photoreceptor cilium for the treatment of retinal diseases


Photoreceptors, as polarised sensory neurons, are essential for light sensation and phototransduction, which are highly dependent on the photoreceptor cilium. Structural defects and/or dysfunction of the photoreceptor cilium caused by mutations in photoreceptor-specific genes or common ciliary genes can lead to retinal diseases, including syndromic and nonsyndromic diseases. In this review, we describe the structure and function of the photoreceptor cilium. We also discuss recent findings that underscore the dysregulation of the photoreceptor cilium in various retinal diseases and the therapeutic potential of targeting ciliary genes in these diseases.

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Fig. 1: Structure of the photoreceptor.
Fig. 2: Mutation of ciliary genes in syndromic (green) and nonsyndromic (purple) retinal diseases.


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This work was supported by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31701169).

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Correspondence to Jie Ran or Jun Zhou.

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Ran, J., Zhou, J. Targeting the photoreceptor cilium for the treatment of retinal diseases. Acta Pharmacol Sin 41, 1410–1415 (2020).

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  • retina
  • photoreceptor cilium
  • retinal disease
  • ciliopathy
  • gene therapy
  • genome editing technology
  • stem cell-based therapy
  • HDAC6 inhibitor

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