Tunnelling nanotubes (TNTs) are an emerging route of long-range intercellular communication that mediate cell-to-cell exchange of cargo and organelles and contribute to maintaining cellular homeostasis by balancing diverse cellular stresses. Besides their role in intercellular communication, TNTs are implicated in several ways in health and disease. Transfer of pathogenic molecules or structures via TNTs can promote the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, cancer malignancy, and the spread of viral infection. Additionally, TNTs contribute to acquiring resistance to cancer therapy, probably via their ability to rescue cells by ameliorating various pathological stresses, such as oxidative stress, reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial dysfunction, and apoptotic stress. Moreover, mesenchymal stem cells play a crucial role in the rejuvenation of targeted cells with mitochondrial heteroplasmy and oxidative stress by transferring healthy mitochondria through TNTs. Recent research has focussed on uncovering the key regulatory molecules involved in the biogenesis of TNTs. However further work will be required to provide detailed understanding of TNT regulation. In this review, we discuss possible associations with Rho GTPases linked to oxidative stress and apoptotic signals in biogenesis pathways of TNTs and summarize how intercellular trafficking of cargo and organelles, including mitochondria, via TNTs plays a crucial role in disease progression and also in rejuvenation/therapy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology