Membrane and junctional properties of the isolated frog lens epithelium

George Duncan, Sophie Stewart, Alan R. Prescott, Richard M. Warn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The isolated frog lens epithelium can be maintained intact in both appearance and electrical properties for more than 24 hours. The mean resting membrane potential was -80 mV and the cells were depolarized by both high potassium and low calcium Ringer's solution in a manner very similar to that of the whole lens. The epithelial cells were found to be well coupled using both electrical and dye-injection techniques. Electrical coupling was measured using separate current-injection and voltage-measuring electrodes and the relationship between the induced voltage and distance from the current-passing electrode could be well fitted by a Bessel Function solution to the cable equation. The values obtained from the fit for the membrane and internal resistances were 1.95 Ωm2 and 25 Ωm, respectively. Exposure to octanol (500μm) or low external Ca2+ (<1μm) failed to disrupt significantly the intercellular flow of current. There was evidence to suggest that raised intracellular calcium does, however, uncouple the cells. Dye coupling was investigated by microinjecting Lucifer Yellow CH into single epithelial cells. Diffusion into surrounding cells was rapid and, in control medium, occurred in a radially symmetrical manner. In contrast to the electrical coupling data, dye transfer appeared to be blocked by exposure to 500 μm octanol and was severely restricted on perfusing with low external calcium. Differences between the electrical and dye-coupling experiments indicate either that there are two types of junction within the cell and only the larger type, permeable to Lucifer Yellow, is capable of being uncoupled or that there is only one large type of junction which can be partially closed by uncoupling agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Membrane Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1988


  • communication
  • coupling
  • dye transfer
  • epithelium
  • lens
  • membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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