Departmental Papers (BE)

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Journal Article

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American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology





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Alveolar epithelial cells (AEC) maintain integrity of the blood-gas barrier with gasket-like intercellular tight junctions (TJ) that are anchored internally to the actin cytoskeleton. We hypothesize that stretch rapidly reorganizes actin (<10 >min) into a perijunctional actin ring (PJAR) in a manner that is dependent on magnitude and frequency of the stretch, accompanied by spontaneous movement of actin-anchored receptors at the plasma membrane. Primary AEC monolayers were stretched biaxially to create a change in surface area (ΔSA) of 12%, 25%, or 37% in a cyclic manner at 0.25 Hz for up to 60 min, or held tonic at 25% ΔSA for up to 60 min, or left unstretched. By 10 min of stretch PJARs were evident in 25% and 37% ΔSA at 0.25 Hz, but not for 12% ΔSA at 0.25 Hz, or at tonic 25% ΔSA, or with no stretch. Treatment with 1 μM jasplakinolide abolished stretch-induced PJAR formation, however. As a rough index of remodeling rate, we measured spontaneous motions of 5-μm microbeads bound to actin focal adhesion complexes on the apical membrane surfaces; within 1 min of exposure to ΔSA of 25% and 37%, these motions increased substantially, increased with increasing stretch frequency, and were consistent with our mechanistic hypothesis. With a tonic stretch, however, the spontaneous motion of microbeads attenuated back to unstretched levels, whereas PJAR remained unchanged. Stretch did not increase spontaneous microbead motion in human alveolar epithelial adenocarcinoma A549 monolayers, confirming that this actin remodeling response to stretch was a cell-type specific response. In summary, stretch of primary rat AEC monolayers forms PJARs and rapidly reorganized actin binding sites at the plasma membrane in a manner dependent on stretch magnitude and frequency.


mean square displacement, perijunctional actomyosin ring, epithelial, lung injury, mechanical ventilation



Date Posted: 02 December 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.