Changes in intercellular junctional morphology associated with rat liver regeneration were examined in a freeze-fracture study. After a two-thirds partial hepatectomy, both gap junctions and zonulae occludentes were drastically altered. Between 0 and 20 h after partial hepatectomy, the junctions appeared virtually unchanged. 28 h after partial hepatectomy, however, the large gap junctions usually located close to the bile canaliculi and the small gap junctions enmeshed within the strands of the zonulae occudentes completely disappeared. Although the zonulae occludentes bordering the bile canaliculi apparently remained intact, numerous strands could now be found oriented perpendicular to the canaliculi. In some instances, the membrane outside the canaliculi was extensively filled with isolated junctional strands, often forming very complex configurations. About 40 h after partial hepatectomy, very many small gap junctions reappeared in close association with the zonulae occludentes. Subsequently, gap junctions increased in size and decreased in number until about 48 h after partial hepatectomy when gap junctions were indistinguishable in size and number from those of control animals. The zonulae occludentes were again predominantly located around the canalicular margins. These studies provide further evidence for the growth of gap junctions by the accretion of particles and of small gap junctions to form large maculae.

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