Cytonemes, their formation, regulation, and roles in signaling and communication in tumorigenesis Academic Article uri icon


  • Increasing evidence during the past two decades shows that cells interconnect and communicate through cytonemes. These cytoskeleton-driven extensions of specialized membrane territories are involved in cell–cell signaling in development, patterning, and differentiation, but also in the maintenance of adult tissue homeostasis, tissue regeneration, and cancer. Brain tumor cells in glioblastoma extend ultralong membrane protrusions (named tumor microtubes, TMs), which contribute to invasion, proliferation, radioresistance, and tumor progression. Here we review the mechanisms underlying cytoneme formation, regulation, and their roles in cell signaling and communication in epithelial cells and other cell types. Furthermore, we discuss the recent discovery of glial cytonemes in the Drosophila glial cells that alter Wingless (Wg)/Frizzled (Fz) signaling between glia and neurons. Research on cytoneme formation, maintenance, and cell signaling mechanisms will help to better understand not only physiological developmental processes and tissue homeostasis but also cancer progression.

publication date

  • 2019