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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2003 Sep;285(3):F388-96.

Role of Na-K-ATPase in the assembly of tight junctions.

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  • 1Dept. of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles 90095, USA. arajasekaran@mednet.ucla.edu


Na-K-ATPase, also known as the sodium pump, is a crucial enzyme that regulates intracellular sodium homeostasis in mammalian cells. In epithelial cells Na-K-ATPase function is also involved in the formation of tight junctions through RhoA GTPase and stress fibers. In this review, a new two-step model for the assembly of tight junctions is proposed: step 1, an E-cadherin-dependent formation of partial tight junction strands and of the circumferential actin ring; and step 2, active actin polymerization-dependent tethering of tight junction strands to form functional tight junctions, an event requiring normal function of Na-K-ATPase in epithelial cells. A new role for stress fibers in the assembly of tight junctions is proposed. Also, implications of Na-K-ATPase function on tight junction assembly in diseases such as cancer, ischemia, hypomagnesemia, and polycystic kidney disease are discussed.

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