Membrane nanotubes are long membrane tethers that may represent a new mode of communication between cells.
We have reported the existence of such connections between many types of immune cells and at least for macrophages, there are two classes of nanotubes based on their cytoskeletal structure and functional properties [J Immunol. 2006; 177:8476-83, J Immunol. 2004; 173:1511-3].
Most recently, we have demonstrated that T cells readily form membrane nanotubes between each other and these can be explored by HIV to spread between cells [Nat Cell Biol. 2008; 10:211-219].
We have also recently demonstrated that NK cells can functionally interact with target cells over long-distances [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010; 107:5545-50.]