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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jan 30;279(5):3543-52. Epub 2003 Oct 30.

Epidermal growth factor receptor activation differentially regulates claudin expression and enhances transepithelial resistance in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-4794, USA.


Tight junctions (TJs) are the most apical cell-cell junctions, and claudins, the recently identified TJ proteins, are critical for maintaining cell-cell adhesion in epithelial cell sheets. Based on their in vivo distribution and the results of overexpression studies, certain claudins, including claudin-1 and -4, are postulated to increase, whereas other claudins, especially claudin-2, are postulated to decrease the overall transcellular resistance. The overall ratio among claudins expressed in a cell/tissue has been hypothesized to define the complexity of TJs. Disruption of the TJs contributes to various human diseases, and a correlation between reduction of TJ function and tumor dedifferentiation has been postulated. The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in a wide spectrum of epithelial cancers, and its expression correlates with a more metastatic cancer phenotype. However, normal functioning of EGFR is essential for normal epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation. The role of EGFR-dependent signaling in the development and maintenance of epithelial TJ integrity has not been studied in detail. This study demonstrates that, in polarized Madin-Darby canine kidney II cells, EGF-induced EGFR activation significantly inhibited claudin-2 expression while simultaneously inducing cellular redistribution and increased expression of claudin-1, -3, and -4. Accompanying these EGF-induced changes in claudin expression was a 3-fold increase in transepithelial resistance, a functional measure of TJs. In contrast, there were no alterations in protein expression and/or intracellular localization of other TJ-related proteins (ZO-1 and occludin) or adherens junction-associated proteins (E-cadherin and beta-catenin), suggesting that EGF regulates TJ function through selective and differential regulation of claudins.

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