Electrical circuit analysis was used to study the structural development of occluding junctions (OJs) in cultured monolayers composed to T84 cells. The magnitude of the increments in transepithelial resistance predicted by such analysis was compared with the magnitude of the measured increments in resistance. Confluent sheets of epithelial cells were formed after cells were plated at high density on collagen-coated filters. Using Claude's OJ strand count-resistance hypothesis (1978, J. Membr. Biol. 39:219-232), electrical circuit analysis of histograms describing OJ strand count distribution at different time points after plating predicted that junctional resistance should rise in a proportion of 1:21:50 from 18 h to 2 d to 5 d. This reasonably paralleled the degree of rise in transepithelial resistance over this period, which was 1:29:59. The ability to predict the observed resistance rise was eliminated if only mean strand counts were analyzed or if electrical circuit analysis of OJ strand counts were performed using an OJ strand count-resistance relationship substantially different from that proposed by Claude. Measurements of unidirectional fluxes of inulin, mannitol, and sodium indicated that restriction of transjunctional permeability accounted for the observed resistance rise, and that T84 junctional strands have finite permeability to molecules with radii less than or equal to 3.6 A but are essentially impermeable to molecules with radii greater than or equal to 15 A. The results suggest that general correlates between OJ structure and OJ ability to resist passive ion flow do exist in T84 monolayers. The study also suggests that such correlates can be obtained only if OJ structural data are analyzed as an electrical circuit composed of parallel resistors.

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