PerspectiveCell Biology

Septins at the Nexus

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Science  10 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5997, pp. 1289-1290
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195445

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Eukaryotic cells exist in a wide variety of shapes and functions. A source of variability is the appendages that cells form on their surfaces, such as the spines and axon that a neuron extends, the motile flagella of sperm and protists, and the beating cilia that many animal cells bear. These appendages constantly exchange material and information with the cell body from which they project, while maintaining their individuality. How they form and maintain themselves has intrigued scientists for almost a century. A study by Kim et al. (1) on page 1337 of this issue, and another by Hu et al. (2), report how proteins called septins contribute to the formation and maintenance of vertebrate cilia.