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Intercellular Communication by Exchange of Cytoplasmic Material via Tunneling Nano-Tube Like Structures in Primary Human Renal Epithelial CellsDomhan, Sophie; Ma, Lili; Tai, Albert; Anaya, Zachary; Beheshti, Afshin; Zeier, Martin; Hlatky, Lynn; Abdollahi, Amir; McNeil, Paul L.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy; et al. (2011-06-27)Transfer of cellular material via tunneling nanotubes (TNT) was recently discovered as a novel mechanism for intercellular communication. The role of intercellular exchange in communication of renal epithelium is not known. Here we report extensive spontaneous intercellular exchange of cargo vesicles and organelles between primary human proximal tubular epithelial cells (RPTEC). Cells were labeled with two different quantum dot nanocrystals (Qtracker 605 or 525) and intercellular exchange was quantified by high-throughput fluorescence imaging and FACS analysis. In co-culture, a substantial fraction of cells (67.5%) contained both dyes indicating high levels of spontaneous intercellular exchange in RPTEC. The double positive cells could be divided into three categories based on the preponderance of 605 Qtracker (46.30%), 525 Qtracker (48.3%) and approximately equal content of both Qtrackers (4.57%). The transfer of mitochondria between RPTECs was also detected using an organelle specific dye. Inhibition of TNT genesis by actin polymerization inhibitor (Latrunculin B) markedly reduced intercellular exchange (>60%) suggesting that intercellular exchange in RPTEC was in part mediated via TNT-like structures. In contrast, induction of cellular stress by Zeocin treatment increased tube-genesis in RPTEC. Our data indicates an unexpected dynamic of intercellular communication between RPTEC by exchange of cytosolic material, which may play an important role in renal physiology.