The unidirectional influxes of Na, K, and Cl into isolated strips of rabbit ileum are comprised of movements across the mucosal membrane of the epithelial cells and ionic diffusion into an extracellular shunt pathway. A large fraction of the Na influx across the mucosal membrane alone is inhibited by Li, suggesting the participation of a carrier mechanism in the influx process. The partial ionic shunt conductances of Na, K, and Cl account for at least 82% of the total tissue conductance. The calculated shunt permeabilities (P) are (in centimeters per hour) PK = 0.040, PNa = 0.035, and PCl = 0.019, so that PK:PNa:PCl = 1.14:1.00:0.55. Diffusion potentials across the tissue resulting from isotonic replacement of NaCl in the mucosal solution with mannitol or KCl are described by the Goldman constant-field equation together with the above permeabilities of the shunt pathway. These observations are not consistent with permeation through a fixed-charge pore but can be explained by a model featuring constant ionic partition into a neutral-polar pore that traverses the tight junction. Such a pore may be lined with either fixed dipoles or fixed dipolar ions oriented such that electronegative groups influence the permselective properties of the diffusion pathway. The essential feature of both models is that electroneutrality is maintained by means of fixed membrane components and does not depend upon the presence of mobile counterions.

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