Intercellular transfer of apoptotic signals via electrofusion
We determined whether cells that are induced to undergo anoikis by matrix detachment can initiate apoptosis in healthy cells following electroporation-induced fusion. Separate populations of MDCK cells undergoing anoikis and stained with FITC-annexin or viable MDCK cells that were labeled with spectrally discrete fluorescent beads were electroporated. Cells were analyzed by flow cytometry for enumeration of viable cells with beads, apoptotic cells or fused cells. Electroporation promoted a 49-fold increase of the percentage of viable cells that had fused with apoptotic cells. Apoptotic cell-viable cell fusions were 8-fold more likely to not attach to cell culture plastic and 2.3-fold less likely to proliferate after 24hr incubation than viable cell fusion controls. These data demonstrate that apoptotic signals can be transferred between cells by electrofusion, possibly suggesting a novel investigative approach for optimizing targeted cell deletion in cancer treatment.
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