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Differentiation. 1999 Jul;65(1):59-69.

Urothelial hinge as a highly specialized membrane: detergent-insolubility, urohingin association, and in vitro formation.

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1
Ronald Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University Medical School, New York 10016, USA.

Abstract

Urothelial surface is covered by numerous plaques (consisting of asymmetric unit membranes or AUM) that are interconnected by ordinary looking hinge membranes. We describe an improved method for purifying bovine urothelial plaques using 2% sarkosyl and 25 mM NaOH to remove contaminating membrane and peripheral proteins selectively. Highly purified plaques interconnected by intact hinge areas were obtained, indicating that the hinges are as detergent-insoluble as the plaques. These plaque/hinge preparations contained uroplakins, an as yet uncharacterized 18-kDa plaque-associated protein, plus an 85-kDa glycoprotein that is known to be hinge-associated in situ. Examination of the isolated, in vitro-resealed bovine AUM vesicles by quick-freeze deep-etch showed that each AUM particle consists of a 16-nm, luminally exposed "head" anchored to the lipid bilayer via a 9-mm transmembranous "tail", and that an AUM plaque can break forming several smaller plaques separated by newly formed particle-free, hinge-like areas. These data lend support to our recently proposed three-dimensional model of mouse urothelial plaques. In addition, our findings suggest that urothelial plaques are dynamic structures that can rearrange giving rise to new plaques with intervening hinges; that the entire urothelial apical surface (both plaque and hinge areas) is highly specialized; and that these two membrane domains may be equally important in fulfilling some of the urothelial functions.

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