A6 cells, a kidney derived epithelial cell line, when cultured either on a collagen-coated substrate or on polycarbonate substrate without collagen form confluent monolayers that are similar in cell density and overall morphology. However, the transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) of monolayers grown on the collagen-coated substrate is ninefold higher than that of monolayers grown without collagen. A comparative freeze-fracture study showed that this large difference in TER is not related to the length or number of tight junction strands but to differences in the specific conductance of individual strands. This conductance was obtained considering the TER, the linear junctional density and the mean number of tight junction strands. We estimated the specific linear conductance of the tight junction strands to be 2.56 × 10−7 S/cm for cells grown on collagen and 30.3 × 10−7 S/cm for the cells grown without collagen. We also examined changes in distribution and phosphorylation states of the zonula occludens associated protein, ZO-1, during monolayer formation. Immunocytochemistry reveals that the distribution of ZO-1 follows a similar time course and pattern independent of the presence or absence of collagen. While the amount of ZO-1 expression is identical in cells grown on both substrates, this protein is phosphorylated to a greater extent during the initial stages of confluence in cells cultured on collagen. We suggest that the phosphorylation levels of ZO-1 in A6 cells at the early stages of monolayer formation may determine the final molecular structure and specific conductance of the tight junctions strands.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 1, 1997
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