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Mol Biol Cell. 2005 Oct;16(10):5040-52. Epub 2005 Jul 29.

Mechanism of IFN-gamma-induced endocytosis of tight junction proteins: myosin II-dependent vacuolarization of the apical plasma membrane.

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  • 1Epithelial Pathobiology Research Unit, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Disruption of epithelial barrier by proinflammatory cytokines such as IFN-gamma represents a major pathophysiological consequence of intestinal inflammation. We have previously shown that IFN-gamma increases paracellular permeability in model T84 epithelial cells by inducing endocytosis of tight junction (TJ) proteins occludin, JAM-A, and claudin-1. The present study was designed to dissect mechanisms of IFN-gamma-induced endocytosis of epithelial TJ proteins. IFN-gamma treatment of T84 cells resulted in internalization of TJ proteins into large actin-coated vacuoles that originated from the apical plasma membrane and resembled the vacuolar apical compartment (VAC) previously observed in epithelial cells that lose cell polarity. The IFN-gamma dependent formation of VACs required ATPase activity of a myosin II motor but was not dependent on rapid turnover of F-actin. In addition, activated myosin II was observed to colocalize with VACs after IFN-gamma exposure. Pharmacological analyses revealed that formation of VACs and endocytosis of TJ proteins was mediated by Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) but not myosin light chain kinase (MLCK). Furthermore, IFN-gamma treatment resulted in activation of Rho GTPase and induced expressional up-regulation of ROCK. These results, for the first time, suggest that IFN-gamma induces endocytosis of epithelial TJ proteins via RhoA/ROCK-mediated, myosin II-dependent formation of VACs.

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