Membrane Nanotubes Are The Communicators Between Body Cells – Study Reveals!
A new study on cells in a human body has revealed that a single cell communicates with another cell through ultra thin membrane nanotubes known as tunneling nanotubes (TNTs). TNTs have a thickness of 1/500th of that of a human hair.
It was observed by the researchers that electrical signals were traveling through these nanotubes between cells at a speed of about 1-2m/second.
The experimental set up included a fluorescent dye whose intensity changes with the changing electric potential of the membrane that surrounds a cell.
Two cells connected by a nanotube formed the basis of the study. One of the cells was then poked with a microinjection needle leading to depolarization of the cell membrane. This in turn lit up the fluorescent dye on the membrane just like a firework. Very soon, a similar display of light was seen on the other cell membrane. Both the cells were connected through a nanotube.
This new finding could help scientists in understanding the intercellular communications occurring during the growth of an embryo, wound healing and brain cell functioning.