Isolated hepatoctes from the marine vertebrate Raja erinacea (the little skate) retain their structural and functional integrity as clusters of cells formed around a single tubular bile canaliculus, and therefore can be used as a model of polarized hepatocytes in situ. In this study we used confocal and conventional epifluorescence microscopy in conjunction with fluorescent markers and immunocytochemistry to examine the structure and function of the cytoskeleton in these cells. Actin filaments in the hepatocyte clusters were found cortically and also concentrated in a pericanalicular array, while microtubules disrupting agent, nocodazole, resulted in the microtubules depolymerizing from the basolateral surfaces towards the apical surface, indicating that the microtubules were oriented with their plus ends at the basolateral surface and their minus ends at the apical surface. Nocodazole was also found to disrupt the ability of clusters to transcytose a fluorescent bile salt derivative into their canalicular lumens. We detected cytoplasmic dynein in skate hepatocyte homogenates by Western blotting using an anti‐dynein intermediate chain anti‐body, and immunofluorescent staining of intact hepatocytes revealed a punctate vesicular pattern. The polarized arrangement of microtubules, the presence of cytoplasmic dynein, and the inhibition of bile salt secretion by nocodozole are consistent with the microtubule cytoskeleton playing a fundamental role in the mediation of transcytosis, endocytosis, and bile excretory function in these hepatocytes. These polarized isolated skate hepatocytes represent an excellent experimental model for the in vitro study of hepatic transport, and allow for important comparative studies aimed at elucidating the evolutionarily conserved nature of various hepatocyte structures amongst the vertebrates. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology