Incubation of guinea pig pancreatic lobules in Ca++-free Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate solution (KRB) containing 0.5 mM ethylene glycol-bis(beta-aminoethyl ether)N,N,N',N'-tetraacetate (EGTA) results in the progressive fragmentation of the occluding zonulae (ZO) with formation of multiple discrete junctions (fasciae occludentes) localized in the lateral and lumenal plasmalemma. After 1--2 h of such incubation, most ZO appear completely disassembled. This results in the disappearance of the heterogeneity in density of intramembrane particles on the P-fracture faces of the basolateral and lumenal plasmalemma. If Ca++ ions are reintroduced into the incubation fluid at this point, continous zonulae reform around the apices of the cells; in contrast, the density of intramembrane particles (imp) at the lumenal plasmalemma remains the same as in the basolateral region, at least for 3 h after Ca++ reintroduction. When added to the incubation fluid, cycloheximide (at a dose known to inhibit protein synthesis greater than 95%) and cytochalasin B (at doses which disrupt microfilaments and modify the cell shape) had no effect on the organization of ZO, on their disassembly in Ca++-free, EGTA medium, or on their Ca++-dependent reformation. Likewise, the organization and disassembly of ZO were unaffected by colchicine; however, after treatment with the latter drug the reassembly was defective, with formation of strand networks on the lateral surface and incomplete segregation of the lumenal region. Antimycin A, on the other hand, when added to the Ca++-EGTA medium, induced a large proliferation of long, infrequently anastomosed junctional strands, usually arranged to form ribbons, festoons, and other bizarre arrays. The possible relationship of these in vitro findings to the in vivo biogenesis and turnover of occluding junctions is discussed. It is suggested that the impairment of reassembly of zonulae by colchicine might be correlated with the disorder induced by the drug on the general organization of pancreatic exocrine cells. Moreover, antimycin A could act by promoting the aggregation of a pool of free junctional strand components (or precursors) that might exist normally in pancreatic exocrine cells.

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