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Eur J Cell Biol. 2004 May;83(4):135-44.

The C-terminal cytoplasmic tail of claudins 1 and 5 but not its PDZ-binding motif is required for apical localization at epithelial and endothelial tight junctions.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Biochcmistry, Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.


Claudins are a family of tetraspan transmembrane proteins that represent the major constituents of epithelial and endothelial tight junctions (TJs). They form TJ strands representing the major barrier regulating paracellular transport of solutes and water. Intracellularly, claudins are connected via a C-terminal PDZ-binding motif with several TJ-associated proteins containing PDZ domains. Although these interactions can provide a link to the actin cytoskeleton, they appear to be dispensable for the TJ localization of claudins. To identify TJ-targeting elements in the C-terminal cytoplasmic domains of the claudins 1 and 5, we generated a series of C-terminal deletion mutants and analyzed their distribution in polarized epithelial (MDCK) and endothelial (HMEC-1) cells. TJ localization was revealed by establishing an in vivo cross-linking approach that stabilized claudin-TJ interactions. We show that residues located C-terminal to the last transmembrane domain are required for the proper targeting to apical TJ.s. While claudin derivatives lacking only the very C-terminal PDZ-binding motif continue to localize to TJs, mutants lacking the entire C-terminal juxtamembrane sequence do not associate with TJs and accumulate in intracellular structures. This indicates that crucial determinants for stable TJ incorporation of claudins reside in a cytoplasmic C-terminal sequence which up to now has not been implicated in specific protein-protein interactions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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