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Oncogene. 2008 Nov 24;27(55):6930-8. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.344.

Tight junction-based epithelial microenvironment and cell proliferation.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biological Science, Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences/Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka, Japan. atsukita@biosci.med.osaka-u.ac.jp

Abstract

Belt-like tight junctions (TJs), referred to as zonula occludens, have long been regarded as a specialized differentiation of epithelial cell membranes. They are required for cell adhesion and paracellular barrier functions, and are now thought to be partly involved in fence functions and in cell polarization. Recently, the molecular bases of TJs have gradually been unveiled. TJs are constructed by TJ strands, whose basic frameworks are composed of integral membrane proteins with four transmembrane domains, designated claudins. The claudin family is supposedly composed of at least 24 members in mice and humans. Other types of integral membrane proteins with four transmembrane domains, namely occludin and tricellulin, as well as the single transmembrane proteins, JAMs (junctional adhesion molecules) and CAR (coxsackie and adenovirus receptor), are associated with TJ strands, and the high-level organization of TJ strands is likely to be established by membrane-anchored scaffolding proteins, such as ZO-1/2. Recent functional analyses of claudins in cell cultures and in mice have suggested that claudin-based TJs may have pivotal functions in the regulation of the epithelial microenvironment, which is critical for various biological functions such as control of cell proliferation. These represent the dawn of 'Barriology' (defined by Shoichiro Tsukita as the science of barriers in multicellular organisms). Taken together with recent reports regarding changes in claudin expression levels, understanding the regulation of the TJ-based microenvironment system will provide new insights into the regulation of polarization in the respect of epithelial microenvironment system and new viewpoints for developing anticancer strategies.

PMID:
19029935
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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