Extensive and unequivocal tight junctions are here reported between the lateral borders of the cellular layer that circumscribes the arachnid (spider) central nervous system. This account details the features of these structures, which form a beltlike reticulum that is more complex than the simple linear tight junctions hitherto found in invertebrate tissues and which bear many of the characteristics of vertebrate zonulae occludentes. We also provide evidence that these junctions form the basis of a permeability barrier to exogenous compounds. In thin sections, the tight junctions are identifiable as punctate points of membrane apposition; they are seen to exclude the stain and appear as election- lucent moniliform strands along the lines of membrane fusion in en face views of uranyl-calcium-treated tissues. In freeze-fracture replicas, the regions of close membrane apposition exhibit P-face (PF) ridges and complementary E-face (EF) furrows that are coincident across face transitions, although slightly offset with respect to one another. The free inward diffusion of both ionic and colloidal lanthanum is inhibited by these punctate tight junctions so that they appear to form the basis of a circumferential blood-brain barrier. These results support the contention that tight junctions exist in the tissues of the invertebrata in spite of earlier suggestions that (a) they are unique to vertebrates and (b) septate junctions are the equivalent invertebrate occluding structure. The component tight junctional 8- to 10-nm-particulate PF ridges are intimately intercalated with, but clearly distinct from, inverted gap junctions possessing the 13-nm EF particles typical of arthropods. Hence, no confusion can occur as to which particles belong to each of the two junctional types, as commonly happens with vertebrate tissues, especially in the analysis of developing junctions. Indeed, their coexistance in this way supports the idea, over which there has been some controversy, that the intramembrane particles making up these two junctional types must be quite distinct entities rather than products of a common precursor.

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