ATP depletion: A novel method to study junctional properties in epithelial tissues: I - Rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton

R. Bacallao, A. Garfinkel, S. Monke, G. Zampighi, L. J. Mandel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

133 Scopus citations


The effect of cellular injury caused by depletion of intracellular ATP stores was studied in the Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) and JTC cell lines. In prior studies, it was shown that ATP depletion uncouples the gate and fence functions of the tight junction. This paper extends these observations by studying the changes in the actin cytoskeleton and tight junction using electron microscopy and confocal fluorescence microscopy in combination with computer-aided three-dimensional reconstruction. Marked regional differences in the sensitivity to the effects of ATP depletion were observed in the actin cytoskeleton. Actin depolymerization appears to first affect the cortical actin network running along the apical basal axis of the cell. The next actin network that is disrupted is the stress fibers found at the basal surface of the cell. Finally, the actin ring at the level of the zonulae occludens and adherens is compromised. The breakup of the actin ring correlates with ultrastructural changes in tight junction strands and the loss of the tight junction's role as a molecular fence. During the process of actin network dissolution, polymerized actin aggregates form in the cytoplasm. The changes in the junctional complexes and the potential to reverse the ATP depletion suggest that this may be a useful method to study junctional complex formation and its relationship to the actin cytoskeletal network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3301-3313
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 1994



  • ATP depletion
  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Tight junction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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