Gap junctions favor normal rat kidney epithelial cell adaptation to chronic hypertonicity

Abstract : Upon hypertonic stress most often resulting from high salinity, cells need to balance their osmotic pressure by accumulating neutral osmolytes called compatible osmolytes like betaine, myo-inositol, and taurine. However, the massive uptake of compatible osmolytes is a slow process compared with other defense mechanisms related to oxidative or heat stress. This is especially critical for cycling cells as they have to double their volume while keeping a hospitable intracellular environment for the molecular machineries. Here we propose that clustered cells can accelerate the supply of compatible osmolytes to cycling cells via the transit, mediated by gap junctions, of compatible osmolytes from arrested to cycling cells. Both experimental results in epithelial normal rat kidney cells and theoretical estimations show that gap junctions indeed play a key role in cell adaptation to chronic hypertonicity. These results can provide basis for a better understanding of the functions of gap junctions in osmoregulation not only for the kidney but also for many other epithelia. In addition to this, we suggest that cancer cells that do not communicate via gap junctions poorly cope with hypertonic environments thus explaining the rare occurrence of cancer coming from the kidney medulla.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 4:01:47 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 1:10:31 AM

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Bénédicte Desforges, Philippe Savarin, Ouissame Bounedjah, Stephanie Delga, Loic Hamon, et al.. Gap junctions favor normal rat kidney epithelial cell adaptation to chronic hypertonicity. American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology, American Physiological Society, 2011, 301 (3), pp.C705-C716. ⟨10.1152/ajpcell.00128.2011⟩. ⟨hal-02292290⟩

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