Apical and basal membrane ion transport mechanisms in bovine retinal pigment epithelium.



1. Intracellular voltage recordings using conventional and double-barrelled chloride-selective microelectrodes have been used to identify several transport mechanisms at the apical and basolateral membranes of the isolated bovine retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)-choroid preparation. Intracellular recordings were obtained from two cell populations, melanotic (pigmented) and amelanotic (non-pigmented). The electrical properties of these two populations are practically identical. For melanotic cells the average apical resting membrane potential (VA) is -61 +/- 2 mV (mean +/- S.E.M., n = 49 cells, thirty-three eyes). For these cells the ratio of apical to basolateral membrane resistance (a) was 0.22 +/- 0.02. The mean transepithelial voltage and resistance were 6 +/- 1 mV and 138 +/- 7 omega cm2, respectively. 2. The apical membrane, which faces the distal retina, contains a Ba(2+)-inhibitable K+ conductance and a ouabain-inhibitable, electrogenic Na(+)-K+ pump. In addition it contains a bumetanide-sensitive mechanism, the putative Na(+)-K(+)-Cl- cotransporter. The basolateral membrane contains a DIDS (4,4'-diisothiocyanostilbene-2,2'-disulphonic acid)-inhibitable chloride channel. The relative conductances of the apical and basolateral membranes to K+ and Cl- are TK approximately 0.9 and TCl approximately 0.7, respectively. 3. The ouabain-induced fast phase of apical membrane depolarization (0-30 s) was used to calculate the equivalent resistances of the apical (RA) and basolateral (RB) cell membranes, as well as the paracellular or shunt resistance (RS). They are: 3190 +/- 400, 17920 +/- 2730 and 2550 +/- 200 omega (mean +/- S.E.M., n = 9 tissues), respectively. From these data the equivalent electromotive forces (EMF) at the apical (EA) and basolateral (EB) membranes were also calculated. They are: -69 +/- 5.0 and -24 +/- 5.0 mV, respectively. 4. Intracellular Cl- activity (aiCl) was measured using double-barreled ion-selective microelectrodes. In the steady state aiCl = 61 +/- 4.0 mM and the Nernst potential ECl = -13.5 +/- 1.5 mV (mean +/- S.E.M., n = 4). 5. In the intact eye or in retina, RPE-choroid preparations it has been shown that the transition between light and dark alters the K+ concentration in the extracellular (or subretinal) space between the photoreceptors and the apical membrane of the RPE. These light-induced changes in subretinal [K+]o were qualitatively simulated in vitro by altering apical K+ between 5 and 2 mM. This produced a sequence of voltage changes at the apical and basolateral membranes that had three operationally distinct phases. Phase 1 is generated by the combination of an apical membrane K+ diffusion potential and inhibition of the electrogenic Na(+)-K+ pump.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)