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Volume 14, Issue 4 (Dec 2009)

Mechanisms for the formation of membranous nanostructures in cell-to-cell communication

Karin Schara
  • Laboratory of Clinical Biophysics, Institute of Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Lipičeva 2, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Zaloška 9, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
/ Vid Janša
  • Laboratory of Clinical Biophysics, Institute of Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Lipičeva 2, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
/ Vid Šuštar
  • Laboratory of Clinical Biophysics, Institute of Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Lipičeva 2, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
/ Drago Dolinar
  • Laboratory of Clinical Biophysics, Institute of Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Lipičeva 2, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Zaloška 9, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
/ Janez Pavlič
  • Faculty of Health Studies, University of Ljubljana, Poljanska 26a, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Laboratory of Physics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Tržaška 25, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
/ Maruša Lokar
  • Laboratory of Physics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Tržaška 25, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
/ Veronika Kralj-Iglič
  • Laboratory of Clinical Biophysics, Institute of Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Lipičeva 2, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
/ Peter Veranič
  • Institute of Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Lipičeva 2, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
/ Aleš Iglič
  • Laboratory of Physics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Tržaška 25, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Email:
Published Online: 2009-09-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11658-009-0018-0


Cells interact by exchanging material and information. Two methods of cell-to-cell communication are by means of microvesicles and by means of nanotubes. Both microvesicles and nanotubes derive from the cell membrane and are able to transport the contents of the inner solution. In this review, we describe two physical mechanisms involved in the formation of microvesicles and nanotubes: curvature-mediated lateral redistribution of membrane components with the formation of membrane nanodomains; and plasmamediated attractive forces between membranes. These mechanisms are clinically relevant since they can be affected by drugs. In particular, the underlying mechanism of heparin’s role as an anticoagulant and tumor suppressor is the suppression of microvesicluation due to plasma-mediated attractive interaction between membranes.

Keywords: Membrane nanostructures; Cell-to-cell communication; Microvesicles; Nanotubes; Trousseau syndrome; Heparin

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About the article

Published Online: 2009-09-10

Published in Print: 2009-12-01

Citation Information: Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters, ISSN (Online) 1689-1392, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11658-009-0018-0. Export Citation

© 2009 University of Wrocław, Poland. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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