Bacteria display an array of contact-dependent interaction systems that have evolved to facilitate direct cell-to-cell communication. We have previously identified a mode of bacterial communication mediated by nanotubes bridging neighboring cells. Here, we elucidate nanotube architecture, dynamics, and molecular components. Utilizing Bacillus subtilis as a model organism, we found that at low cell density, nanotubes exhibit remarkable complexity, existing as both intercellular tubes and extending tubes, with the latter frequently surrounding the cells in a "root-like" fashion. Observing nanotube formation in real time showed that these structures are formed in the course of minutes, displaying rapid movements. Utilizing a combination of super-resolution, light, and electron microscopy, we revealed that nanotubes are composed of chains of membranous segments harboring a continuous lumen. Furthermore, we discovered that a conserved calcineurin-like protein, YmdB, presents in nanotubes and is required for both nanotube production and intercellular molecular trade.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology