In this study, we demonstrated that hypoxic conditions stimulated an increase in tunneling nanotube (TNT) formation in chemoresistant ovarian cancer cells (SKOV3, C200).We found that suppressing the mTOR pathway using either everolimus or metformin led to suppression of TNT formation in vitro, verifying TNTs as a potential target for cancer-directed therapy. Additionally, TNT formation was detected in cocultures including between platinum-resistant SKOV3 cells, between SKOV3 cells and platinum-chemosensitive A2780 cells, and between SKOV3 cells cultured with benign ovarian epithelial (IOSE) cells; these findings indicate that TNTs are novel conduits for malignant cell interactions and tumor cell interactions with other cells in the microenvironment. When chemoresistant C200 and parent chemosensitive A2780 cells were co-cultured, chemoresistant cells displayed a higher likelihood of TNT formation to each other than to chemosensitive malignant or benign epithelial cells. Hypoxia-induced TNT formation represents a potential mechanism for intercellular communication in ovarian cancer and other forms of invasive refractory cancers.
- Intercellular communication
- Tunneling nanotubes