Homeostasis of the apical plasma membrane during regulated exocytosis in the salivary glands of live rodents

Bioarchitecture. 2011 Sep 1;1(5):225-229. doi: 10.4161/bioa.18405.


In exocrine organs such as the salivary glands, fluids and proteins are secreted into ductal structures by distinct mechanisms that are tightly coupled. In the acinar cells, the major secretory units of the salivary glands, fluids are secreted into the acinar canaliculi through paracellular and intracellular transport, whereas proteins are stored in large granules that undergo exocytosis and fuse with the apical plasma membranes releasing their content into the canaliculi. Both secretory processes elicit a remodeling of the apical plasma membrane that has not been fully addressed in in vitro or ex vivo models. Recently, we have studied regulated exocytosis in the salivary glands of live rodents, focusing on the role that actin and myosin plays in this process. We observed that during exocytosis both secretory granules and canaliculi are subjected to the hydrostatic pressure generated by fluid secretion. Furthermore, the absorption of the membranes of the secretory granules contributes to the expansion and deformation of the canaliculi. Here we suggest that the homeostasis of the apical plasma membranes during exocytosis is maintained by various strategies that include: (1) membrane retrieval via compensatory endocytosis, (2) increase of the surface area via membrane folds and (3) recruitment of a functional actomyosin complex. Our observations underscore the important relationship between tissue architecture and cellular response, and highlight the potential of investigating biological processes in vivo by using intravital microscopy.