Communicating by touch--neurons are not alone

Trends Cell Biol. 2014 Jun;24(6):370-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2014.01.003. Epub 2014 Feb 20.


Long-distance cell-cell communication is essential for organ development and function. Whereas neurons communicate at long distances by transferring signals at sites of direct contact (i.e., at synapses), it has been presumed that the only way other cell types signal is by dispersing signals through extracellular fluid--indirectly. Recent evidence from Drosophila suggests that non-neuronal cells also exchange signaling proteins at sites of direct contact, even when long distances separate the cells. We review here contact-mediated signaling in neurons and discuss how this signaling mechanism is shared by other cell types.

Keywords: cytoneme; morphogen; neuron; synapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Drosophila / cytology
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism*
  • Synapses*