Tunneling Nanotubes and Gap Junctions-Their Role in Long-Range Intercellular Communication during Development, Health, and Disease Conditions.

Journal: 
Front Mol Neurosci
Publication Year: 
2017
Authors: 
Jennifer Ariazi
Andrew Benowitz
Vern De Biasi
Monique L Den Boer
Stephanie Cherqui
Haifeng Cui
Nathalie Douillet
Eliseo A Eugenin
David Favre
Spencer Goodman
Karine Gousset
Dorit Hanein
David I Israel
Shunsuke Kimura
Robert B Kirkpatrick
Nastaran Kuhn
Claire Jeong
Emil Lou
Robbie Mailliard
Stephen Maio
George Okafo
Matthias Osswald
Jennifer Pasquier
Roel Polak
Gabriele Pradel
Bob de Rooij
Peter Schaeffer
Vytenis A Skeberdis
Ian F Smith
Ahmad Tanveer
Niels Volkmann
Zhenhua Wu
Chiara Zurzolo
PubMed link: 
29089870
Public Summary: 
Tunneling nanotubes (TNTs) are long cytoplasmic bridges that have emerged as a new type of intercellular communication allowing the transport of various signals, organelles and pathogens. However, the exact role of TNTs and gap junctions for intercellular communication and their impact on disease is still uncertain and thus, the subject of much debate. This is review reporting data from several research groups indicate that some TNT mediate a long-range cellular communication to coordinate metabolism and signaling, in relation to infectious, genetic, metabolic, cancer, and age-related diseases. This review aims to describe the current knowledge, challenges and future perspectives to characterize and explore this new intercellular communication system and to design TNT-based therapeutic strategies.
Scientific Abstract: 
Cell-to-cell communication is essential for the organization, coordination, and development of cellular networks and multi-cellular systems. Intercellular communication is mediated by soluble factors (including growth factors, neurotransmitters, and cytokines/chemokines), gap junctions, exosomes and recently described tunneling nanotubes (TNTs). It is unknown whether a combination of these communication mechanisms such as TNTs and gap junctions may be important, but further research is required. TNTs are long cytoplasmic bridges that enable long-range, directed communication between connected cells. The proposed functions of TNTs are diverse and not well understood but have been shown to include the cell-to-cell transfer of vesicles, organelles, electrical stimuli and small molecules. However, the exact role of TNTs and gap junctions for intercellular communication and their impact on disease is still uncertain and thus, the subject of much debate. The combined data from numerous laboratories indicate that some TNT mediate a long-range gap junctional communication to coordinate metabolism and signaling, in relation to infectious, genetic, metabolic, cancer, and age-related diseases. This review aims to describe the current knowledge, challenges and future perspectives to characterize and explore this new intercellular communication system and to design TNT-based therapeutic strategies.