Recent evidence shows that cells exchange collections of signals via microvesicles (MVs) and tunneling nano-tubes (TNTs). In this paper we have investigated whether in cell cultures GPCRs can be transferred by means of MVs and TNTs from a source cell to target cells.
Western blot, transmission electron microscopy and gene expression analyses demonstrate that A2A and D2 receptors are present in released MVs. In order to further demonstrate the involvement of MVs in cell-to-cell communication we created two populations of cells (HEK293T and COS-7) transiently transfected with D2R-CFP or A2AR-YFP. These two types of cells were co-cultured, and FRET analysis demonstrated simultaneously positive cells to the D2R-CFP and A2AR-YFP. Fluorescence microscopy analysis also showed that GPCRs can move from one cell to another also by means of TNTs.
Finally, recipient cells pre-incubated for 24 h with A2AR positive MVs were treated with the adenosine A2A receptor agonist CGS-21680. The significant increase in cAMP accumulation clearly demonstrated that A2ARs were functionally competent in target cells.
These findings demonstrate that A2A receptors capable of recognizing and decoding extracellular signals can be safely transferred via MVs from source to target cells.