, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp 171-180

Changes in paracellular and cellular ionic permeabilities of monolayers of MDCK cells infected with influenza or vesicular stomatitis viruses

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MDCK cells (epithelioid line derived from the kidney of a normal dog) form monolayers which retain the properties of transporting epithelia. In these cells viruses bud asymmetrically: influenza from the apical, and vesicular stomatitis (VSV) from the basolateral membrane (E. Rodríguez-Boulán and D. D. Sabatini,Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 75: 5071–5075, 1978; E. Rodríguez-Boulán and M. Pendergast,Cell 20: 45–54, 1980). In the present study, we analyzed whether these viruses affect specific ion-translocating mechanisms located in the plasma membrane. We studied the effect of infection on membrane and transepithelial conductance, passive and active unidirectional fluxes of Na+ and K+, intracellular potentials, cellular content of Na+ and K+, and formation of blisters which, in these preparations, are due to the vectorial transport of fluid. Two main observations are derived from these studies. First, infection with VSV caused an increase in transepithelial electrical conductance, due to the opening of tight junctions, 5 to 6 hr after the start of infection, coincident with the accumulation of envelope protein in the cell surface and with the rise in the curve of virus budding. Infection with influenza, on the other hand, increased the transepithelial conductance only late in the infection (12 to 14 hr) when virus production has already stopped. Second, viruses did affect membrane permeability. Yet, the changes observed may not be ascribed to a perturbation of the specific translocating mechanisms for Na+ and K+ which operate in the same region of the plasma membrane that the viruses use to penetrate and leave MDCK cells. The methods used in the present study are not suitable to decide whether the nonspecific changes in permeability elicited by the viruses occur over the whole cell membrane or are restricted to a given region.