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Clin Exp Nephrol. 2012 Feb;16(1):61-7. doi: 10.1007/s10157-011-0491-4. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Claudins and renal salt transport.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Jichi Medical University, Shimotsuke, Tochigi, 329-0498, Japan. smuto@jichi.ac.jp

Abstract

Tight junctions (TJs) are the most apical component of junctional complexes and regulate the movement of electrolytes and solutes by the paracellular pathway across epithelia. The defining ultrastructural features of TJs are strands of transmembrane protein particles that adhere to similar strands on adjacent cells. These strands are mainly composed of linearly polymerized integral membrane proteins called claudins. Claudins comprise a multigene family consisting of more than 20 members in mammals. Recent work has shown that claudins form barriers, determined by the paracellular electrical resistance and charge selectivity, and pores in the TJ strands. The paracellular pathways in renal tubular epithelia such as the proximal tubule, which reabsorbs the largest fraction of filtered NaCl and water, are important routes for the transport of electrolytes and water. Their transport characteristics vary among different nephron segments. Multiple claudins are expressed at TJs of individual nephron segments in a nephron segment-specific manner. Among them, claudin-2 is highly expressed at TJs of proximal tubules, which are leaky epithelia. Overexpression and knockdown of claudin-2 in epithelial cell lines, and knockout of the claudin-2 gene in mice, have demonstrated that claudin-2 forms high-conductance cation-selective pores in the proximal tubule. Here, we review the renal physiology of paracellular transport and the physiological roles of claudins in kidney function, especially claudin-2 and proximal tubule paracellular NaCl transport.

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