Scanning Microscopy


The paper reviews several recent studies in which marker ions, such as Rb and Br, were used to identify ion transport pathways and membrane properties in epithelia. In the frog skin epithelium, using Rb as a substitute for K, Cl transport mechanisms across the basolateral membranes of principal cells were studied. The data suggest that intracellular Cl is maintained above electrochemical equilibrium by an Na-K-2Cl cotransport system which, under non-stimulated conditions, is normally quiescent.

In toad and frog skins, the route of transepithelial Cl movement was investigated. A subpopulation of mitochondria-rich cells demonstrated a ready exchange of Br with the apical and basal bathing media, consistent with the view that these cells constitute a transcellular anion shunt. Moreover, voltage-activation resulted in an increased Br uptake from the apical bath. Nevertheless, because of the very small number of these cells, it may be questioned whether the mitochondria-rich cell constitutes the only shuntpathway for Cl.

In other studies, Rb uptake was employed to measure the Na/K.-pump activity. In principal cells of the frog skin epithelium, amiloride inhibited Rb uptake and lowered Na concentration, supporting the view that this cell type is engaged in amiloride-sensitive Na transport. In contrast, no significant changes in the Rb, Na, and Cl concentration of mitochondria-rich cells were detectable. Studies with Rb as marker ion in the rabbit urinary bladder revealed that the epithelium behaves like a functional syncytium with regard to transepithelial ion transport.

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