Zonulae occludentes and gap junctions were examined both in the intact mouse liver and in a junction-rich membrane fraction from homogenized mouse liver. These preparations were visualized with the techniques of uranyl acetate staining en bloc, staining with colloidal lanthanum, negative staining with phosphotungstate, and freeze-cleaving. The zonula occludens is arranged as a meshwork of branching and anastomosing threadlike contacts sealing the lumen of the bile canaliculus from the liver intercellular space. The gap junction is characterized in section by a 20 A gap between the apposed junctional membrane outer leaflets, and permeation of this space with lanthanum or phosphotungstate reveals a polygonal lattice of subunits with a center-to-center spacing of 90–100 A. Freeze-cleaved gap junctions show a similar lattice. Extraction of junction-rich fractions with 60% aqueous acetone results in a disappearance of the 20 A gap in sectioned pellets and an inability to demonstrate the polygonal lattice with either the freeze-cleave or negative staining techniques. Extraction of the membranes with 50% acetone does not produce this effect. Thin-layer chromatography of the acetone extracts reveals a group of phospholipids in the 60% extract that are not detectable in the 50% extract. Acetone does not cause any detectable change in the structure of the zonula occludens, but the occluding junction becomes leaky to lanthanum following acetone treatment. The effects of other reagents on the junctions are reported.

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