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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1990;17(1):46-58.

Effects of trypsin and low Ca2+ on zonulae adhaerentes between chick retinal pigment epithelial cells in organ culture.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The junctional complexes in chick retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells in situ contain unusually large zonulae adhaerentes (ZAs) composed of subunits termed zonula adhaerens complexes (ZACs). To determine whether the properties of the ZAs differ between RPE cells which contain ZACs, and MDCK cells which lack ZACs, we investigated the effects of treatment with trypsin and/or low Ca2+ by transmission electron microscopy and staining for F-actin. Treatment of RPE cells for 1 h with trypsin alone has no apparent effect on the morphology of the ZA in either MDCK or RPE cells. In contrast to the ZAs in MDCK cells, which split after 3 min in low Ca2+, the ZAs in chick RPE cells stay intact even after 2 h, although the intermembrane discs, i.e., the extracellular components of the ZACs, are no longer visible. After 30 min of treatment with trypsin and low Ca2+, the ZAs split in both cell types. The CMBs start to contract, translocate toward the cell interior, and eventually disappear. This process continues even when the RPE cells are returned to normal medium. New ZAs, composed of ZACs, form between RPE cells 3 h after return to normal medium. These findings suggest that the ZACs in the ZAs of RPE cells are not directly responsible for the increase in resistance to low Ca2+. They also show that the ZA-junctions in RPE cells are not only structurally different from those previously examined, but also behave differently in response to experimental manipulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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