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J Membr Biol. 1983;75(3):193-203.

Localization of ionic pathways in the teleost opercular membrane by extracellular recording with a vibrating probe.


We have adapted the vibrating probe extracellular recording technique to use on an epithelium under voltage clamp in an Ussing chamber. The vibrating probe allows very low drift measurements of current density immediately over the epithelial surface. These measurements allowed sites of electrogenic transport in the epithelium to be localized with a spatial resolution of 5 micrometers. The technique was applied to the opercular membrane of the teleost fish, the tilapia, Sarotherodon mossambicus. The mitochondrion-rich "chloride cells" were shown to be the only sites of electrogenic ion transport in this heterogeneous epithelium. Cell sampling experiments demonstrated variable negative short-circuit currents associated with nearly all of approximately 300 chloride cells examined, which appeared to account for all of the tissue short-circuit current. Current-voltage relations for individual cells were also measured. Conductance associated with chloride cells (i.e. cellular and junctional pathways) accounted for all but 0.5 mS/cm2 of the tissue conductance, with the balance apparently accounted for by leak pathways near the edge of the tissue. Current and conductance associated with other cell types was at least 50-fold smaller than for the chloride cell. Chloride-free solutions reduced chloride cell current and conductance by 98 and 95%, respectively.

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