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J Histochem Cytochem. 1988 Mar;36(3):311-6.

Immunocytochemical localization of plasmalemmal proteins in semi-thin sections of epithelial monolayers.

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Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Cell Biology, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.


We describe a technique for analysis by light microscopic immunocytochemistry of the distribution of plasmalemmal proteins in polarized epithelial cells. For this purpose, Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells were grown to confluency on Cytodex beads, the beads were fixed with formaldehyde, and semi-thin (0.5 micron) sections were cut at liquid nitrogen temperature on an ultracryomicrotome. The distribution of the basolaterally distributed plasmalemmal protein, Na,K-ATPase, was assessed by indirect immunofluorescence using a monospecific polyclonal antibody directed against the alpha-subunit of the Na pump. Such preparations enable epithelial monolayers to be evaluated in cross-section, thus permitting unambiguous topological assessment of apical and basolateral membrane proteins. Thus, the spatial uncertainties encountered in en face examination of membrane protein distribution in epithelia grown on solid supports are largely obviated. In addition, we describe a technique for removal of the bead matrix, which markedly reduces nonspecific background staining and improves access of reagents to the basal cell surface, thus permitting localization of basal lamina components.

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