Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2016 Mar 17;55(12):3914-8. Epub 2016 Feb 17.
Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Living Biosystems, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100190, P.R. China.
Intercellular connections are an important pathway for cell-cell crosstalk. However, their formation mechanism and functions are far from being understood. The lack of molecular probes hampers the research in this area. Herein, we report a kind of intercellular connection that is specifically recognized by aptamer M17A2 generated by cell-SELEX against MCF-7R cells. These connections have different morphologies, but have the same skeleton composed of F-actin. The long filamentous connections were identified to be tunneling nanotubes (TNTs), a recently discovered cell-cell communication route. These connections could be built not only between MCF-7R cells, but also from MCF-7R to other cells after co-culture. Proteins could be transported between cells through these connections, suggesting their cell communication function. Aptamer M17A2 shows the potential to act as a new probe for investigating this kind of intercellular connection, as well as for studying cell-cell communication.