The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 25–40 | Cite as

Ion transport by mitochondria-rich cells in toad skin

  • E. Hviid Larsen
  • Hans H. Ussing
  • Kenneth R. Spring


The optical sectioning video imaging technique was used for measurements of the volume of mitochondria-rich (m.r.) cells of the isolated epithelium of toad skin. Under short-circuit conditions, cell volume decreased by about 14% in response to bilateral exposure to Cl-free (gluconate substitution) solutions, apical exposure to ouabain resulted in a large increase in volume, which could be prevented either by the simultaneous application of amiloride in the apical solution or by the exposure of the epithelium to bilateral Cl-free solutions. Unilateral exposure to a Cl-free solution did not prevent ouabain-induced cell swelling. It is concluded that m.r. cells have an amiloride-blockable Na conductance in the apical membrane, a ouabain-sensitive Na pump in the basolateral membrane, and a passive Cl permeability in both membranes. From the initial rate of ouabain-induced cell volume increase the active Na current carried by a single m.r. cell was estimated to be 9.9±1.3 pA. Voltage clamping of the preparation in the physiological range of potentials (0 to −100 mV, serosa grounded) resulted in a cell volume increase with a time course similar to that of the stimulation of the voltage-dependent activation were prevented by exposure of the tissue to a Cl-free apical solution. The steady-state volume of the m.r. cells increased with the clamping voltage, and at −100 mV the volume was about 1.15 times that under short-circuit conditions. The rate of volume increase during current passage was significantly decreased by lowering the serosal K concentration (K i ) to 0.5mm, but was independent of whether K i was 2.4, 5, or 10mm. This indicates that the K conductance of the serosal membrane becomes rate limiting for the uptake of KCl when K i is significantly lower than its physiological value. It is concluded that the voltage-activated Cl currents flow through the m.r. cells and that swelling is caused by an uptake of Cl ions from the apical bath and K ions from the serosal bath. Bilateral exposure of the tissue to hypo- or hypertonic bathing solutions changed cell volume without detectable changes in the Cl conductance. The volume response to external osmotic perturbations followed that of an osmometer with an osmotically inactive volume of 21%. Using this value and the change in cell volume in response to bilateral Cl-free solutions, we calculated an intracellular steady-state Cl concentration of 19.8±1.7mm (n=6) of the short-circuited cell.

Key Words

sodium transport chloride transport quantitative light microscopy cell volume voltage-dependent chloride conductance mitochondria-rich cell 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Hviid Larsen
    • 1
  • Hans H. Ussing
    • 1
  • Kenneth R. Spring
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism, National Heart, Lung and Blood InstituteNational Institutes of HealthBethesda

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