The terms deflagellation, deciliation, ciliary autotomy, and ciliary excision are synonymous and refer to the shedding of cilia and flagella (the terms are used interchangeably) into the environment. For consistency, we will mainly use deciliation in this chapter. A wide range of chemical and physical stimuli can induce deciliation by activating the precise severing of the nine outer doublet microtubules at the distal end of the ciliary transition zone, a location termed the SOFA (Site Of Flagellar Autotomy). The SOFA serves as a “break-point” between the microtubules of the ciliary axoneme and those of the basal bodies. Microtubule severing is accompanied by resealing of the plasma membrane over the doublet microtubules of the transition zone, thereby retaining the integrity of the cytoplasm. The deciliated cell can then regrow new cilia in ~90minutes, if transferred to a stress-free environment. This chapter provides a brief review of the physiological relevance of deciliation, how scientists have exploited this behavior, a discussion of its potential value to the cell, and a review of what is known about the mechanism(s) that mediate deciliation. It also touches on the relationship between deciliation and the regulation of ciliary assembly and disassembly, highlighting an emerging link between deciliation and cell cycle regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Chlamydomonas Sourcebook
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 3: Cell Motility and Behavior
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780128225080
ISBN (Print)9780128225097
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Chlamydomonas
  • cilia
  • deciliation
  • flagella
  • microtubules


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