Asymmetrically permeable membrane channels in cell junction

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  15 Feb 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4432, pp. 771-773
DOI: 10.1126/science.7352287


Asymmetric membrane junctions were formed in culture by pairing two cell types which, in their respective homologous junctions, have cell-cell channels of different permselectivities. The channels in the asymmetric junction, presumably made of unequal channel precursors, displayed directional permselectivity; fluorescent labeled glutamic acid (700 daltons), but not smaller and less polar permeant molecules, traversed the junction more readily in one direction than in the other. The favored direction was the one where the permeant passed first through the cell membrane that would have the less restrictive channels in a homologous junction. This directional selectivity requires no electric field across the junction and is thus distinct from a rectifying junction. The physiological potential of such directional molecular sieving for partitioning communication between tissue cells of different function and developmental fate are discussed.