Tunneling nanotubes: a new route for the exchange of components between animal cells.

Research paper by Hans-Hermann HH Gerdes, Nickolay V NV Bukoreshtliev, João F V JF Barroso

Indexed on: 17 Apr '07Published on: 17 Apr '07Published in: FEBS Letters


Recently, highly sensitive nanotubular structures mediating membrane continuity between mammalian cells have been discovered. With respect to their peculiar architecture, these membrane channels were termed tunneling nanotubes (TNTs). TNTs could form de novo between animal cells leading to the generation of complex cellular networks. They have been shown to facilitate the intercellular transfer of organelles as well as, on a limited scale, of membrane components and cytoplasmic molecules. It has been proposed that TNTs represent a novel and general biological principle of cell-to-cell communication and it becomes increasingly apparent that they fulfill important functions in the physiological processes of multicellular organisms.