UMMS Affiliation

Program in Molecular Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Developmental Biology


Microenvironmental signals produced during development or inflammation stimulate lymphatic endothelial cells to undergo lymphangiogenesis, in which they sprout, proliferate, and migrate to expand the vascular network. Many cell types detect changes in extracellular conditions via primary cilia, microtubule-based cellular protrusions that house specialized membrane receptors and signaling complexes. Primary cilia are critical for receipt of extracellular cues from both ligand-receptor pathways and physical forces such as fluid shear stress. Here, we report the presence of primary cilia on immortalized mouse and primary adult human dermal lymphatic endothelial cells in vitro and on both luminal and abluminal domains of mouse corneal, skin, and mesenteric lymphatic vessels in vivo. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of disrupting primary cilia on lymphatic vessel patterning during development and inflammation. Intraflagellar transport protein 20 (IFT20) is part of the transport machinery required for ciliary assembly and function. To disrupt primary ciliary signaling, we generated global and lymphatic endothelium-specific IFT20 knockout mouse models and used immunofluorescence microscopy to quantify changes in lymphatic vessel patterning at E16.5 and in adult suture-mediated corneal lymphangiogenesis. Loss of IFT20 during development resulted in edema, increased and more variable lymphatic vessel caliber and branching, as well as red blood cell-filled lymphatics. We used a corneal suture model to determine ciliation status of lymphatic vessels during acute, recurrent, and tumor-associated inflammatory reactions and wound healing. Primary cilia were present on corneal lymphatics during all of the mechanistically distinct lymphatic patterning events of the model and assembled on lymphatic endothelial cells residing at the limbus, stalk, and vessel tip. Lymphatic-specific deletion of IFT20 cell-autonomously exacerbated acute corneal lymphangiogenesis resulting in increased lymphatic vessel density and branching. These data are the first functional studies of primary cilia on lymphatic endothelial cells and reveal a new dimension in regulation of lymphatic vascular biology.


IFT20, corneal inflammation, lymphangiogenesis, lymphatic, lymphatic development, primary cilia, vascular patterning

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © 2021 Paulson, Harms, Ward, Latterell, Pazour and Fink. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI of Published Version



Paulson D, Harms R, Ward C, Latterell M, Pazour GJ, Fink DM. Loss of Primary Cilia Protein IFT20 Dysregulates Lymphatic Vessel Patterning in Development and Inflammation. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 May 14;9:672625. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2021.672625. PMID: 34055805; PMCID: PMC8160126. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in cell and developmental biology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.