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J Cell Mol Med. 2004 Jul-Sep;8(3):388-96.

Vesicle traffic through intercellular bridges in DU 145 human prostate cancer cells.

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1
Deptartment of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Tulane University and Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA.

Abstract

We detected cell-to-cell communication via intercellular bridges in DU 145 human prostate cancer cells by fluorescence microscopy. Since DU 145 cells have deficient gap junctions, intercellular bridges may have a prominent role in the transfer of chemical signals between these cells. In culture, DU 145 cells are contiguous over several cell diameters through filopodial extensions, and directly communicate with adjacent cells across intercellular bridges. These structures range from 100 nm to 5 microm in diameter, and from a few microns to at least 50-100 microm in length. Time-lapse imagery revealed that (1) filopodia rapidly move at a rate of microns per minute to contact neighboring cells and (2) intercellular bridges are conduits for transport of membrane vesicles (1-3 microm in diameter) between adjacent cells. Immunofluorescence detected alpha-tubulin in intercellular bridges and filopodia, indicative of microtubule bundles, greater than a micron in diameter. The functional meaning, interrelationship of these membrane extensions are discussed, along with the significance of these findings for other culture systems such as stem cells. Potential applications of this work include the development of anti-cancer therapies that target intercellular communication and controlling formation of cancer spheroids for drug testing.

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