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Evidence of cell communication via tubular connections

08 July 2023

Give and Take

Communication between cells is fundamental to an organism's survival. They can do this by releasing small molecules which diffuse across to neighbouring cells, which can receive and respond to those messages. However, that might not be the only way. Here, researchers studied how various proteins and RNA molecules that can usually be found in a cell’s cytoplasm may be able to be passed between cells. By tracking a delivery in the form of a protein called Cas9 that caused a glow of bioluminescence on successful transfer, they found that cells in direct or close contact form physical tube connections between them allowing this cargo passage. This video shows the tubular connection form between the donor (green) and receiver (magenta) cells and parcels of Cas9 being transferred. This introduces a new concept of how cells communicate with one another, both when healthy but also potentially when it comes to cancer progression.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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