Architecture and Characteristics of Bacterial Nanotubes

Gyanendra P. Dubey, Ganesh Babu Malli Mohan, Anna Dubrovsky, Triana Amen, Shai Tsipshtein, Alex Rouvinski, Alex Rosenberg, Daniel Kaganovich, Eilon Sherman, Ohad Medalia, Sigal Ben-Yehuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-461
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - 22 Feb 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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