Three experimental techniques were employed to examine coupling between acinar cells of the mouse salivary gland. Passage of DC current pulses via intracellular microelectrodes between neighboring cells showed that small ions could be directly passed from one cell to another. Intracellular iontophoresis of the dye Lucifer Yellow CH into a single cell indicated that small molecules could spread by means of intercellular cytoplasmic bridges througout an acinus and, occasionally, into cells of adjacent acini. Freeze-fracture replicas of acinar cell membranes indicated the presence of gap junctions which were correlated with both electrical and dye coupling experiments. Suggestions are made for the function of direct intercellular exchange in salivary secretory cells. The role of electrical coupling in coordination of the activity of different secretory cell types is discussed as one possible function.

This content is only available as a PDF.