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Nanotubular Highways for Intercellular Organelle Transport

Science  13 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5660, pp. 1007-1010
DOI: 10.1126/science.1093133

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Abstract

Cell-to-cell communication is a crucial prerequisite for the development and maintenance of multicellular organisms. To date, diverse mechanisms of intercellular exchange of information have been documented, including chemical synapses, gap junctions, and plasmodesmata. Here, we describe highly sensitive nanotubular structures formed de novo between cells that create complex networks. These structures facilitate the selective transfer of membrane vesicles and organelles but seem to impede the flow of small molecules. Accordingly, we propose a novel biological principle of cell-to-cell interaction based on membrane continuity and intercellular transfer of organelles.

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