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Pore size of swelling-activated channels for organic osmolytes in Jurkat lymphocytes, probed by differential polymer exclusion

: Sukhorukov, V.L.; Imes, D.; Woellhaf, M.W.; Andronic, J.; Kiesel, M.; Shirakashi, R.; Zimmermann, U.; Zimmermann, H.


Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. Biomembranes 1788 (2009), No.9, pp.1841-1850
ISSN: 0005-2736
ISSN: 1879-2642
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IBMT ()

The present study explores the impact of the molecular size on the permeation of low-molecular-weight polyethylene glycols (PEG200-1500) through the plasma membrane of Jurkat cells under iso- and hypotonic conditions. To this end, we analyzed the cell volume responses to PEG-substituted solutions of different osmolalities (100-300 mOsm) using video microscopy. In parallel experiments, the osmotically induced changes in the membrane capacitance and cytosolic conductivity were measured by electrorotation (ROT). Upon moderate swelling in slightly hypotonic solutions (200 mOsm), the lymphocyte membrane remained impermeable to PEG300-1500, which allowed the cells to accomplish regulatory volume decrease (RVD). During RVD, lymphocytes released intracellular electrolytes through the swelling-activated pathways, as proved by a decrease of the cytosolic conductivity measured by electrorotation. RVD also occurred in strongly hypotonic solutions (100 mOsm) of PEG600-1500, whereas 100 mOsm solutions of PEG300-400 inhibited RVD in Jurkat cells. These findings suggest that extensive hypotonic swelling rendered the cell membrane highly permeable to PEG300-400, but not to PEG600-1500. The swelling-activated channels conducting PEG300-400 were inserted into the plasma membrane from cytosolic vesicles via swelling-mediated exocytosis, as suggested by an increase of the whole cell capacitance. Using the hydrodynamic radii R-h Of PEGs (determined by viscosimetry), the observed size-selectivity of membrane permeation yielded an estimate of similar to 0.74 nm for the cut-off radius of the swelling-activated channel for organic osmolytes. Unlike PEG300-1500, the smallest PEG (PEG200, R-h = 0.5 nm) permeated the lymphocyte membrane under isotonic conditions thus leading to a continuous isotonic swelling. The results are of interest for biotechnology and biomedicine, where PEGs are widely used for cryopreservation of cells and tissues.