Tubular bridges for bronchial epithelial cell migration and communication
Author(s)Zani, Brett Greer; Indolfi, Laura; Edelman, Elazer R.
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Background: Biological processes from embryogenesis to tumorigenesis rely on the coordinated coalescence of cells and synchronized cell-to-cell communication. Intercellular signaling enables cell masses to communicate through endocrine pathways at a distance or by direct contact over shorter dimensions. Cellular bridges, the longest direct connections between cells, facilitate transfer of cellular signals and components over hundreds of microns in vitro and in vivo. Methodology/Principal Findings: Using various cellular imaging techniques on human tissue cultures, we identified two types of tubular, bronchial epithelial (EP) connections, up to a millimeter in length, designated EP bridges. Structurally distinct from other cellular connections, the first type of EP bridge may mediate transport of cellular material between cells, while the second type of EP bridge is functionally distinct from all other cellular connections by mediating migration of epithelial cells between EP masses. Morphological and biochemical interactions with other cell types differentially regulated the nuclear factor-kB and cyclooxygenase inflammatory pathways, resulting in increased levels of inflammatory molecules that impeded EP bridge formation. Pharmacologic inhibition of these inflammatory pathways caused increased morphological and mobility changes stimulating the biogenesis of EP bridges, in part through the upregulation of reactive oxygen species pathways. Conclusions/Significance: EP bridge formation appears to be a normal response of EP physiology in vitro, which is differentially inhibited by inflammatory cellular pathways depending upon the morphological and biochemical interactions between EP cells and other cell types. These tubular EP conduits may represent an ultra long-range form of direct intercellular communication and a completely new mechanism of tissue-mediated cell migration.
DepartmentHarvard University--MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
Public Library of Science
Zani, Brett G., Laura Indolfi, and Elazer R. Edelman. “Tubular Bridges for Bronchial Epithelial Cell Migration and Communication.” PLoS ONE 5.1 (2010): e8930. © 2010 Zani et al.
Final published version