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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Jan 19;96(2):511-6.

Claudin multigene family encoding four-transmembrane domain protein components of tight junction strands.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606, Japan.


Two related integral membrane proteins, claudin-1 and -2, recently were identified as novel components of tight junction (TJ) strands. Here, we report six more claudin-like proteins, indicating the existence of a claudin gene family. Three of these were reported previously as RVP1, Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin receptor, and TMVCF, but their physiological functions were not determined. Through similarity searches followed by PCR, we isolated full length cDNAs of mouse RVP1, Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin receptor, and TMVCF as well as three mouse claudin-like proteins and designated them as claudin-3 to -8, respectively. All of these claudin family members showed similar patterns on hydrophilicity plots, which predicted four transmembrane domains in each molecule. Northern blotting showed that the tissue distribution pattern varied significantly, depending on claudin species. Similarly to claudin-1 and -2, when these claudins were HA-tagged and introduced into cultured Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, all showed a tendency to concentrate at TJs. Immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy with polyclonal antibodies specific for claudin-3, -4, or -8 revealed that these molecules were exclusively concentrated at TJs in the liver and/or kidney. These findings indicated that multiple claudin family members are involved in the formation of TJ strands in various tissues.

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