Specialized Intercellular Communications via Cytonemes and Nanotubes

Yukiko M. Yamashita, Mayu Inaba, Michael Buszczak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


In recent years, thin membrane protrusions such as cytonemes and tunneling nanotubes have emerged as a novel mechanism of intercellular communication. Protrusion-based cellular interactions allow for specific communication between participating cells and have a distinct spectrum of advantages compared to secretion- and diffusion-based intercellular communication. Identification of protrusion-based signaling in diverse systems suggests that this mechanism is a ubiquitous and prevailing means of communication employed by many cell types. Moreover, accumulating evidence indicates that protrusion-based intercellular communication is often involved in pathogenesis, including cancers and ections. Here we review our current understanding of protrusion-based intercellular communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-84
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Oct 6 2018


  • Adult stem cells
  • Cytoneme
  • Nanotube
  • Signaling
  • Stem cell niche

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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