We show how the antibiotic nystatin may be used in conjunction with microelectrodes to resolve transepithelial conductance Gt into its components: Ga, apical membrane conductance; Gbl, basolateral membrane conductance; and Gj, junctional conductance. Mucosal addition of nystatin to rabbit urinary bladder in Na+-containing solutions caused Gt to increase severalfold to ca. 460 micrometerho/muF, and caused the transepithelial voltage Vt to approach +50 mV regardless of its initial value. From measurements of Gt and the voltage-divider ratio as a function of time after addition or removal of nystatin, values for Ga, Gbl, and Gj of untreated bladder could be obtained. Nystatin proved to have no direct effect on Gbl or Gj but to increase Ga by about two orders of magnitude, so that the basolateral membrane then provided almost all of the electrical resistance in the transcellular pathway. The nystatin channel in the apical membrane was more permeable to cations than to anions. The dose-response curve for nystatin had a slope of 4.6. Use of nystatin permitted assessment of whether microelectrode impalement introduced a significant shunt conductance into the untreated apical membrane, with the conclusion that such a shunt was negligible in the present experiments. Nystatin caused a hyperpolarization of the basolateral membrane potential in Na+-containing solutions. This may indicate that the Na+ pump in this membrane is electrogenic.

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