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Keywords:

  • Intercellular contact;
  • Cancer cells;
  • Membrane protrusion;
  • Tunnelling nanotubes;
  • Video microscopy

Abstract

A novel biological principle of cell-to-cell interaction based on membrane continuity of nanotubular channels has recently been described. These contacts are extremely dynamic and sensitive to mechanical stress, which causes their rapid breakage and retraction. Here we demonstrate that functional mechanical stress generated during cell division can disrupt membrane nanotubes, which are formed de novo when filopodia-like projections on one cell make contact with a neighbouring cell, using the SW620 colon carcinoma cell line. Considering the general principal of decreasing cell—cell interactions during tumour progression, our observation is appealing because this new phenomenon may be valid for neoplastic cells.