Published online Nov 20, 2015. doi: 10.5493/wjem.v5.i4.200
Peer-review started: May 30, 2015
First decision: July 3, 2015
Revised: July 21, 2015
Accepted: September 10, 2015
Article in press: September 16, 2015
Published online: November 20, 2015
Core tip: Polycystins are key regulators of mechanosensation in several cell types including kidney, vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells, osteoblasts and cardiac myocytes. Their expression in primary cilium, plasma membrane and endoplasmic reticulum, along with their ability to interact with diverse ion channels, cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix junctional proteins renders polycystins as essential regulators of overall cellular mechanoresponse. Abnormal expression or genetic defects of polycystins result in severe structural and mechanosensing faults including cyst formation, deregulated flow sensing, aneurysms, defective bone development and cancer progression, highlighting their crucial role in human physiology.