Freeze-fracture replication of organized tissue without cryoprotection.
Fresh pieces of rat liver and pancreas were rapidly frozen without prior chemical fixation or cryoprotection, and replicated folloing freeze-fracture. Replicas revealed small peripheral areas free of ice crystals or damage and, within such areas, general ultrastructural morphology was essentially similar to that seen in conventionally processed material. On fracture faces of plasma and nuclear membranes a population of less prominent particles in addition to conventional membrane-associated particles was seen, and smooth areas devoid of particles of any type were seen on some nuclear membranes. These smooth areas did not appear to be similar to smooth areas allegedly arising as artifacts of conventional processing. Tight junctions and gap junctions appeared as they do in cryoprotected specimens. The results provide a base-line for assessing the possible effects of processing steps or agents on the ultrastructure of organized tissues as revealed in freeze-fracture replicas. (+info)
Freeze-fracture studies of frog atrial fibres.
The freeze-fracturing technique was used to characterize the junctional devices involved in the electrical coupling of frog atrial fibres. These fibres are connected by a type of junction which can be interpreted as a morphological variant of the "gap junction" or "nexus". The most characteristic features are rows of 9-nm junctional particles forming single or anastomosed circular profiles on the inner membrane face, and corresponding pits on the outer membrane face. Very seldom aggregates consisting of few geometrically disposed 9-nm particles are found. The significance of the junctional structures in the atrial fibres is discussed, with respect to present knowledge about junctional features of gap junctions in various tissues, including embryonic ones. (+info)
Intercellular junctions in the ciliary epithelium.
The fine structure of the intercellular junctions in the ciliary epithelium of rhesus monkeys and rabbits was studied with conventional electron microscopy of thin-sectioned specimens and the freeze-fracturing technique. In the rhesus monkey, a zonula occludens, zonula adhaerens, gap junctions, and desmosomes interconnect the nonpigmented cells, whereas gap junctions, puncta adhaerentia, and desmosomes connect pigmented to nonpigmented cells, and pigmented cells to one another. In the rabbit, desmosomes are absent between nonpigmented cells, and substituted for by puncta adhaerentia. The zonula occludens between nonpigmented cells greatly varies in its complexity in different regions of the cell perimeter, and in places, it may consist of very few intramembrane strands; this suggests that the ciliary epithelium is relatively leaky to ions and small molecules. Gap junctions are ubiquitous in the ciliary epithelium and particularly numerous at the interface between pigmented and nonpigmented layers; this finding indicates that the cells of the ciliary epithelium are joined in a metabolic syncytium. All gap junctions are characterized by the crystalline configuration which is typical of the uncoupled state; furthermore, in specimens fixed by immersion, they may be caused by uncoupling and take place in the time interval elapsing between interruption of the blood supply and arrival of the fixative fluid. Puncta adhaerentia resemble zonulae adhaerentes in their structural details but are macular in shape instead of encompassing the cell perimeter in a beltlike fashion. In contrast with desmosomes, the intercellular cleft of puncta adhaerentia has an irregular width and contains opaque material, but this never gives rise to the central band typical of desmosomes. On the inner aspect of the junctional membranes, there is a layer of fluffy material but no plaque of insertion for a bundle of tonofilaments. Finally, puncta adhaerentia have no representation in the interior of the plasmalemma and are intimately associated with cytoplasmic microfilaments. They probably anchor to the plasmalemma the contractile apparatus of the ciliary epithelial cells. (+info)
Freeze-fracture studies of the developing cell surface. II. Particle-free membrane blisters on glutaraldehyde-fixed corneal fibroblasts are artefacts.
We describe, in sections and by freeze-fracture, four classes of intramembrane particle (IMP)-free membrane blebs or "blisters" associated with glutaraldehyde-fixed embryonic corneal fibroblasts: (a) Single blisters attached to the cell membrane; (b) free (detached) vesicles; (c) myelin figures; (d) multivesicular protrusions which resemble the "mounds" described by others on nerve growth cones. The IMP-free, membrane-bounded blisters contain no ground cytoplasm or organelles, in contrast to blebs on trypsin-isolated fibroblasts, which we show here do contain cytoplasm and IMP-rich membranes. That the IMP-free membrane blisters in embryonic corneas are artefacts of fixation is demonstrated by (a) their absence in replicas of fibroblasts frozen and fractured without prior aldehyde fixation and (b) their absence in sections of fibroblasts fixed in a combination of glutaraldehyde and osmium tetroxide. We suggest that the addition of osmium prevents postfixation movement of membrane lipids, especially the negatively charged "fluid" lipids which others have shown are capable of considerable mobility after aldehyde fixation alone. Recent literature has implicated membrane blistering in secretory processes and in growth of nerves, but before the functional significance of such IMP-free blisters is assessed, membrane mobility of the type shown here should be taken into consideration. (+info)
Functional and morphological correlates of connexin50 expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes.
Electrophysiological and morphological methods were used to study connexin50 (Cx50) expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Oocytes expressing Cx50 exhibited a new population of intramembrane particles (9.0 nm in diameter) in the plasma membrane. The particles represented hemichannels (connexin hexamers) because (a) their cross-sectional area could accommodate 24 +/- 3 helices, (b) when their density reached 300-400/microm2, they formed complete channels (dodecamers) in single oocytes, and assembled into plaques, and (c) their appearance in the plasma membrane was associated with a whole-cell current, which was activated at low external Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]o), and was blocked by octanol and by intracellular acidification. The Cx50 hemichannel density was directly proportional to the magnitude of the Cx50 Ca2+-sensitive current. Measurements of hemichannel density and the Ca2+-sensitive current in the same oocytes suggested that at physiological [Ca2+]o (1-2 mM), hemichannels rarely open. In the cytoplasm, hemichannels were present in approximately 0.1-microm diameter "coated" and in larger 0.2-0.5-microm diameter vesicles. The smaller coated vesicles contained endogenous plasma membrane proteins of the oocyte intermingled with 5-40 Cx50 hemichannels, and were observed to fuse with the plasma membrane. The larger vesicles, which contained Cx50 hemichannels, gap junction channels, and endogenous membrane proteins, originated from invaginations of the plasma membrane, as their lumen was labeled with the extracellular marker peroxidase. The insertion rate of hemichannels into the plasma membrane (80, 000/s), suggested that an average of 4,000 small coated vesicles were inserted every second. However, insertion of hemichannels occurred at a constant plasma membrane area, indicating that insertion by vesicle exocytosis (60-500 microm2 membranes/s) was balanced by plasma membrane endocytosis. These exocytotic and endocytotic rates suggest that the entire plasma membrane of the oocyte is replaced in approximately 24 h. (+info)
Gap junctions in the differentiated neural retinae of newly hatched chickens.
Gap junctions in the neural retinae of newly hatched chickens were examined in thin section and by freeze cleaving. Unusual gap junctions containing linear arrays of intramembrane particles are found between principal and accessory cones which form a double cone at the region of the outer limiting membrane. These unusual gap junctions are often continuous with macular aggregates of hexagonally packed intramembrane particles which are characteristic of a typical gap junction. Typical gap junctions are also found in both the outer and the inner plexiform layers and in the outer nuclear layer, but are not so abundant as in the outer limiting membrane region. The sizes of intramembrane particles and their centre-to-centre spacing within the macular aggregate of a gap junction in differentiated neural retinae are slightly larger than those in undifferentiated neural retinae. Tight junctions are not found in differentiated neural retinae. (+info)
Tyrosine-phosphorylated caveolin-1: immunolocalization and molecular characterization.
Caveolin-1 was discovered as a major substrate for v-Src, but the effect of its tyrosine phosphorylation has not been known. We generated a specific antibody (PY14) to caveolin-1 phosphorylated at tyrosine 14 and studied the significance of the modification. By Western blotting of lysates of v-Src-expressing cells, PY14 recognized not only a 22-kDa band (the position of nonphosphorylated caveolin-1) but bands at 23-24 and 25 kDa. Bands of slower mobility were diminished by dephosphorylation and were also observed for mutant caveolin-1 lacking tyrosine 14. By immunofluorescence microscopy, PY14 did not label normal cells but detected large dots in v-Src-expressing cells. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that the dots corresponded to aggregated caveolae and/or vesicles of various sizes; besides, the label was observed in intramembrane particle-free areas in the plasma membrane, which appeared to have been formed by fusion of flattened caveolae. A positive reaction with PY14 was found in normal cells after vanadate or pervanadate treatment; it occurred mainly at 22 kDa by Western blotting and was not seen as large dots by immunofluorescence microscopy. Detergent solubility, oligomerization, and association with caveolin-2 were observed similarly for caveolin-1 in normal and v-Src-expressing cells. The results indicate that phosphorylation of caveolin-1 in v-Src-expressing cells occurs at multiple residues and induces flattening, aggregation, and fusion of caveolae and/or caveolae-derived vesicles. (+info)
Claudin-11/OSP-based tight junctions of myelin sheaths in brain and Sertoli cells in testis.
Members of the newly identified claudin gene family constitute tight junction (TJ) strands, which play a pivotal role in compartmentalization in multicellular organisms. We identified oligodendrocyte-specific protein (OSP) as claudin-11, a new claudin family member, due to its sequence similarity to claudins as well as its ability to form TJ strands in transfected fibroblasts. Claudin-11/OSP mRNA was expressed in the brain and testis. Immunofluorescence microscopy with anti-claudin-11/OSP polyclonal antibody (pAb) and anti-neurofilament mAb revealed that in the brain claudin-11/OSP-positive linear structures run in a gentle spiral around neurofilament-positive axons. At the electron microscopic level, these linear structures were identified as the so-called interlamellar strands in myelin sheaths of oligodendrocytes. In testis, well-developed TJ strands of Sertoli cells were specifically labeled with anti-claudin-11/OSP pAb both at immunofluorescence and electron microscopic levels. These findings indicated that the interlamellar strands of oligodendrocyte myelin sheaths can be regarded as a variant of TJ strands found in many other epithelial cells, and that these strands share a specific claudin species, claudin-11/OSP, with those in Sertoli cells to create and maintain the repeated compartments around axons by oligodendrocytes. (+info)