The volume of the cells and lateral intercellular spaces were measured in living Necturus gallbladder epithelium. Under control conditions, the volume of the lateral spaces was 9% of the cell volume. Replacement of mucosal NaCl by sucrose or tetramethylammonium chloride (TMACl) caused intercellular spaces to collapse. During mucosal NaCl replacement, cell volume decreased to 79% of its control value. When NaCl was reintroduced into the mucosal bath, the intercellular spaces reopened and the cells returned to control volume. The NaCl active transport rate, calculated from the rate of cell volume decrease, was 266 pM/cm2.s, close to the observed rate of transepithelial salt transport. It was calculated from the decrease in cell volume that all of the intracellular NaCl was transported out of the cell during removal of mucosal NaCl. The flux of salt across the apical membrane, calculated from the rate of cell volume increase upon reintroducing mucosal NaCl, was 209 pM/cm2.s, in good agreement with estimates by other methods. The electrical resistance of the tight junctions was estimated to be 83.9% of the total tissue resistance in control conditions, suggesting that the lateral intercellular spaces normally offer only a small resistance to electrolyte movement.

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