Cytonemes: cellular processes that project to the principal signaling center in Drosophila imaginal discs

Cell. 1999 May 28;97(5):599-607. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)80771-0.


Wing imaginal disc cells in Drosophila develop by using information received from a signaling center associated with the anterior/posterior compartment border. We show here that disc cells have thin, actin-based extensions (cytonemes) that project to this signaling center. Cytonemes can be induced when cells from the lateral flanks of a wing disc are cultured next to cells from the A/P border or next to a source of fibroblast growth factor. Mouse limb bud cells also grow projections during a brief culture period, indicating that cytonemes are an attribute of both vertebrate and invertebrate cells. We suggest that cytonemes may be responsible for some forms of long-range cell-cell communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Communication
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / growth & development
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / physiology
  • Larva
  • Limb Buds
  • Mice
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Signal Transduction
  • Wings, Animal / embryology
  • Wings, Animal / growth & development


  • Actins
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors