• actin cytoskeleton;
  • cell junction;
  • membrane potential;
  • corneal endothelium


In previous works we showed that the depolarization of the plasma membrane potential (PMP) determines a reorganization of the cytoskeleton of diverse epithelia in culture, consisting mainly of a reallocation of peripheral actin toward the cell center, ultimately provoking intercellular disruption. In view of this evidence, we explored in this study the possible effects of membrane potential hyperpolarization on the cytoskeletal organization and adherens junction (AJ) morphology and the stability of confluent bovine corneal endothelial cells in culture. For this purpose, hyperpolarization was achieved by substitution of extracellular sodium by nondiffusible cations or via the incorporation of valinomycin to the control solution. Actin compactness at the cell periphery was assessed by quantitative analysis of fluorescence microscopy images. The stability of the AJ was challenged by calcium deprivation or temperature decrease. Our results showed that plasma membrane hyperpolarization provokes a compaction of AJ-associated actin filaments toward the plasma membrane and an increase in the stability of the AJs. We also observed that the hyperpolarizing procedures determined similar modifications in the actin cytoskeleton of endothelial cells in whole bovine corneas. Together with our previous work, the results of this study contribute to the idea that modifications in the PMP of nonexcitable cells participate in cellular adaptive responses involving reorganization of cytoskeletal components. Cell Motil. Cytoskeleton 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.