Renal epithelial cells release ATP constitutively under basal conditions and release higher quantities of purine nucleotide in response to stimuli. ATP filtered at the glomerulus, secreted by epithelial cells along the nephron, and released serosally by macula densa cells for feedback signaling to afferent arterioles within the glomerulus has important physiological signaling roles within kidneys. In autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) mice and humans, collecting duct epithelial cells lack an apical central cilium or express dysfunctional proteins within that monocilium. Collecting duct principal cells derived from an Oak Ridge polycystic kidney (orpk ( Tg737 ) ) mouse model of ARPKD lack a well-formed apical central cilium, thought to be a sensory organelle. We compared these cells grown as polarized cell monolayers on permeable supports to the same cells where the apical monocilium was genetically rescued with the wild-type Tg737 gene that encodes Polaris, a protein essential to cilia formation. Constitutive ATP release under basal conditions was low and not different in mutant versus rescued monolayers. However, genetically rescued principal cell monolayers released ATP three- to fivefold more robustly in response to ionomycin. Principal cell monolayers with fully formed apical monocilia responded three- to fivefold greater to hypotonicity than mutant monolayers lacking monocilia. In support of the idea that monocilia are sensory organelles, intentionally harsh pipetting of medium directly onto the center of the monolayer induced ATP release in genetically rescued monolayers that possessed apical monocilia. Mechanical stimulation was much less effective, however, on mutant orpk collecting duct principal cell monolayers that lacked apical central monocilia. Our data also show that an increase in cytosolic free Ca(2+) primes the ATP pool that is released in response to mechanical stimuli. It also appears that hypotonic cell swelling and mechanical pipetting stimuli trigger release of a common ATP pool. Cilium-competent monolayers responded to flow with an increase in cell Ca(2+) derived from both extracellular and intracellular stores. This flow-induced Ca(2+) signal was less robust in cilium-deficient monolayers. Flow-induced Ca(2+) signals in both preparations were attenuated by extracellular gadolinium and by extracellular apyrase, an ATPase/ADPase. Taken together, these data suggest that apical monocilia are sensory organelles and that their presence in the apical membrane facilitates the formation of a mature ATP secretion apparatus responsive to chemical, osmotic, and mechanical stimuli. The cilium and autocrine ATP signaling appear to work in concert to control cell Ca(2+). Loss of a cilium-dedicated autocrine purinergic signaling system may be a critical underlying etiology for ARPKD and may lead to disinhibition and/or upregulation of multiple sodium (Na(+)) absorptive mechanisms and a resultant severe hypertensive phenotype in ARPKD and, possibly, other diseases.