The diffusion coefficients of two caged fluorescent dyes were measured in free solution and in the lateral intercellular spaces (LIS) of cultured Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells after photoactivation by illumination with a continuous or pulsed UV laser. Both quantitative video imaging and a new photometric method were utilized to determine the rates of diffusion of the caged fluorescent dyes: 8-((4,5-dimethoxy-2-nitrobenzyl)oxy)pyrene- 1,3,6-trisulfonic acid (DMNB-HPTS) and (4,5-dimethoxy-2-nitrobenzyl) fluorescein dextran (10,000 MW) (DMNB-caged fluorescein dextran). The diffusion coefficients at 37°C in free solution were 3.3 x 10-6 cm2/s (HPTS) and 0.98 x 10-6 cm2/s (10,000 MW dextran). Diffusion of HPTS within nominally linear stretches of the LIS of MDCK cells grown on glass coverslips was indistinguishable from that in the free solution, whereas dextran showed a 1.6 ± 0.5-fold reduction in diffusivity. Measurements of HPTS diffusion within the LIS of multicellular regions also exhibited a diffusivity comparable to the free solution value. The restriction to diffusion of the dextran within the LIS may be due to molecular hindrance.
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