Paracrine signaling mediated at cell-cell contacts

Bioessays. 2015 Jan;37(1):25-33. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400122. Epub 2014 Dec 5.


Recent findings in several organ systems show that cytoneme-mediated signaling transports signaling proteins along cellular extensions and targets cell-to-cell exchanges to synaptic contacts. This mechanism of paracrine signaling may be a general one that is used by many (or all) cell types in many (or all) organs. We briefly review these findings in this perspective. We also describe the properties of several signaling systems that have previously been interpreted to support a passive diffusion mechanism of signaling protein dispersion, but can now be understood in the context of the cytoneme mechanism. Also watch the Video Abstract.

Keywords: TGF-β; cytonemes; filopodia; morphogen; paracrine signaling; synapse.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Diffusion
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Paracrine Communication*
  • Signal Transduction*