Lens epithelial cells communicate with two different cell types. They communicate with other epithelial cells via gap junctions on their lateral membranes, and with fiber cells via junctions on their apices. We tested independently these two routes of cell-cell communication to determine if treatment with a 90% CO2-equilibrated medium caused a decrease in junctional permeability; the transfer of fluorescent dye was used as the assay. We found that the high-CO2 treatment blocked intraepithelial dye transfer but not fiber-to-epithelium dye transfer. The lens epithelial cell thus forms at least two physiologically distinct classes of gap junctions.

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