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Traffic. 2004 Mar;5(3):117-28.

The uroepithelium: not just a passive barrier.

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  • 1Renal-Electrolyte Division of the Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


The uroepithelium lines the inner surface of the renal pelvis, the ureters, and the urinary bladder, where it forms a tight barrier that allows for retention of urine, while preventing the unregulated movement of ions, solutes, and toxic metabolites across the epithelial barrier. In the case of the bladder, the permeability barrier must be maintained even as the organ undergoes cyclical changes in pressure as it fills and empties. Beyond furthering our understanding of barrier function, new analysis of the uroepithelium is providing information about how detergent-insoluble membrane/protein domains called plaques are formed at the apical plasma membrane of the surface umbrella cells, how mechanical stimuli such as pressure alter exocytic and endocytic traffic in epithelial cells such as umbrella cells, and how changes in pressure are communicated to the underlying nervous system.

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