Determination of the Na permeability of the tight junctions of MDCK cells by fluorescence microscopy

O. Kovbasnjuk, J. Y. Chatton, W. S. Friauf, K. R. Spring

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19 Scopus citations


The kinetics of Na movement across the tight junctions of MDCK cells, grown on coverslips and perfused with HEPES or bicarbonate Ringer at 37°C, were investigated after filling the lateral intercellular spaces (LIS) of the epithelium with SBFO, an Na-sensitive fluorescent dye. Dilution and bi-ionic potential measurements showed that MDCK cell tight junctions, although cation-selective, were poorly permeable to N-methyl-D-glucamine Cl (NMDG) but freely permeable to Li. In previous experiments in which Na was replaced by NMDG, a very slow decrease in LIS Na concentration (time constant = 4.8 min) resulted. In the present study, reduction of perfusate Na from 142 to 14 or 24 m m with Na replaced by Li caused LIS Na concentration to decrease with a time constant of 0.43 min. The time constant for Na increase of the LIS was 0.28 min, significantly shorter than that for Na decrease because of the additional component of transcellular Na influx. Ouabain eliminated the transcellular component and equalized the time constants for Na influx and efflux. These results were incorporated into a mathematical model which enabled calculation of the transcellular and paracellular Na fluxes during fluid reabsorption. Regulation of the Na permeability of individual tight junctions by protein kinase A (PKA) was evaluated by treating the monolayers with the Sp-cAMPS, a cAMP substitute, or Rp-cAMPS, a specific inhibitor of PKA. Stimulation of PKA strikingly increased tight junctional permeability while PKA inhibition diminished junctional Na permeability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Membrane Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Na
  • Protein kinase A
  • SBFO
  • Transference number
  • cAMP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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