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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Increase in membrane fluidity and opening of tight junctions have similar effects on sodium-coupled uptakes in renal epithelial cells.

Apical membranes of renal epithelial cells were shown to be more rigid than other plasma membranes, due in part to the abundance of sphingomyelin among their constituent phospholipids. Tight junctions play a key role in maintaining differences between the apical and the basolateral domains of the plasma membrane with respect to their lipid composition and fluidity. To evaluate the influence of alterations of membrane fluidity on the activity of two apically located transport systems, we compared the effect of opening of tight junctions, by a preincubation period in calcium-deprived medium and of increasing fluidity, with benzyl alcohol, on Na-dependent uptakes of Pi and alpha-methyl-D-glucopyranoside (MGP) in intact, confluent LLC-PK1 cells and MDCK cells. Benzyl alcohol, at 10 mM, increased the Vmax of Pi uptake by 55 and 42% in LLC-PK1 cells and MDCK cells, respectively, but decreased the Vmax of MGP uptake in LLC -PK1 cells by 23%. Similarly to 10 mM benzyl alcohol, opening of tight junctions also increased the Vmax of Pi uptake by 45 and 46% in LLC-PK1 cells and MDCK cells, respectively, and depressed MGP uptake in LLC-PK1 cells by inducing a 15% decrease of the Vmax. None of the two maneuvers (i.e. addition of benzyl alcohol or opening of tight junctions) affected the Km values of the transport systems. From these results it is concluded that (i) the increase in membrane fluidity, achieved either by benzyl alcohol or by opening of tight junctions, affects Na-Pi and Na-glucose cotransports differently, reflecting differences in the lipid environments of the two transport systems, and (ii) membrane fluidity might play a physiological role in the modulation of the activity of transport systems.[1]


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