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J Biol Chem. 2007 Oct 12;282(41):30005-13. Epub 2007 Aug 14.

Regulation of heterotypic claudin compatibility.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Tissue barrier function is directly mediated by tight junction transmembrane proteins known as claudins. Cells that form tight junctions typically express multiple claudin isoforms which suggests that heterotypic (head-to-head) binding between different claudin isoforms may play a role in regulating paracellular permeability. However, little is known about motifs that control heterotypic claudin compatibility. We found that although claudin-3 and claudin-4 were heteromerically compatible when expressed in the same cell, they did not heterotypically interact despite having extracellular loop (EL) domains that are highly conserved at the amino acid level. Claudin-1 and -5, which were heterotypically compatible with claudin-3, did not heterotypically bind to claudin-4. In contrast, claudin-4 chimeras containing either the first EL domain or the second EL domain of claudin-3 were able to heterotypically bind to claudin-1, claudin-3, and claudin-5. Moreover, a single point mutation in the first extracellular loop domain of claudin-3 to convert Asn(44) to the corresponding amino acid in claudin-4 (Thr) produced a claudin capable of heterotypic binding to claudin-4 while still retaining the ability to bind to claudin-1 and -5. Thus, control of heterotypic claudin-claudin interactions is sensitive to small changes in the EL domains.

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