Cells with many cilia on their surface, or multiciliated cells, have ancient evolutionary origins. In mammals, these cells serve essential functions, such as moving mucus in the airway, circulating cerebrospinal fluids, and moving maturing eggs and sperm along the reproductive tract. Curiously, multiciliated cells (shown here in red) are also found on the external surface of a developing tadpole. Because of their location, tadpole cilia are easy to see and manipulate, providing an outstanding experimental system for studying cilia assembly and function.
Different color stains were used to see various structures in the tadpole tissue: actin, which reveals cell outlines is colored green, and microtubules, the core structural protein of cilia, are colored red. The stained tissues were viewed using a confocal microscope.
HHMI Investigator John Wallingford PhD, Dept. Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Texas