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Journal Article

Tunneling nanotubes, an emerging intercellular communication route in development


Rustom,  Amin
Cellular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;
Biophysical Chemistry, Institute of Physical Chemistry, University of Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany;

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Gerdes, H.-H., Rustom, A., & Wang, X. (2013). Tunneling nanotubes, an emerging intercellular communication route in development. Mechanisms of Development, 130(6-8), 381-387. doi:10.1016/j.mod.2012.11.006.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0015-160B-4
The development of multi-cellular organisms involves a comprehensive and tightly regulated cell-to-cell communication system to coordinate the activity and behavior of individual cells. Diverse signaling pathways ranging from receptor-mediated signal transduction to contact-dependent communication via gap junctions achieve these complex interactions. In this review, we will focus on a new type of intercellular connection, the tunneling nanotube (TNT), which has been observed in many cell types in vitro and recently also in developing embryos of different species in vivo. We will summarize the latest insights into their functional roles in cell-to-cell signaling with a particular focus on the TNT-dependent electrical coupling between developing embryonic cells. Finally, potential implications of these new findings in the light of developmental processes, particularly in cell migration, will be discussed.