Olfactory dysfunction is a common disorder in the general population. There are multiple causes, one of which being ciliopathies, an emerging class of human hereditary genetic disorders characterized by multiple symptoms due to defects in ciliary biogenesis, maintenance, and/or function. Mutations/deletions in a wide spectrum of ciliary genes have been identified to cause ciliopathies. Currently, besides symptomatic therapy, there is no available therapeutic treatment option for olfactory dysfunction caused by ciliopathies. Multiple studies have demonstrated that targeted gene replacement can restore the morphology and function of olfactory cilia in olfactory sensory neurons and further re-establish the odor-guided behaviors in animals. Therefore, targeted gene replacement could be potentially used to treat olfactory dysfunction in ciliopathies. However, due to the potential limitations of single-gene therapy for polygenic mutation-induced diseases, alternative therapeutic targets for broader curative measures need to be developed for olfactory dysfunction, and also for other symptoms in ciliopathies. Here we review the current understanding of ciliogenesis and maintenance of olfactory cilia. Furthermore, we emphasize signaling mechanisms that may be involved in the regulation of olfactory ciliary length and highlight potential alternative therapeutic targets for the treatment of ciliopathy-induced dysfunction in the olfactory system and even in other ciliated organ systems.

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