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Am J Physiol. 1999 May;276(5):F737-50. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.1999.276.5.F737.

Role of tyrosine phosphorylation in the reassembly of occludin and other tight junction proteins.

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Renal Division, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


After the simulation of anoxia by ATP depletion of MDCK cell monolayers with metabolic inhibitors, the tight junction (TJ) is known to become structurally perturbed, leading to loss of the permeability barrier. Peripheral TJ proteins such as zonula occludens 1 (ZO-1), ZO-2, and cingulin become extremely insoluble and associate into large macromolecular complexes (T. Tsukamoto and S. K. Nigam. J. Biol. Chem. 272: 16133-16139, 1997). For up to 3 h, this process is reversible by ATP repletion. We now show that the reassembly process depends on tyrosine phosphorylation. Recovery of transepithelial electrical resistance in ATP-replete monolayers was markedly inhibited by the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, genistein. Indirect immunofluorescence revealed a decrease in staining of occludin, a membrane component of the TJ, in the region of the TJ after ATP depletion, which reversed after ATP repletion; this reversal process was inhibited by genistein. Examination of the Triton X-100 solubilities of occludin and several nonmembrane TJ proteins revealed a shift of occludin and nonmembrane TJ proteins into an insoluble pool following ATP depletion. These changes reversed after ATP repletion, and the movement of insoluble occludin, ZO-1, and ZO-2 back into the soluble pool was again via a genistein-sensitive mechanism. Rate-zonal centrifugation analyses of detergent-soluble TJ proteins showed a reversible increase in higher density fractions following ATP depletion-repletion, although this change was not affected by genistein. In 32P-labeled cells, dephosphorylation of all studied TJ proteins was observed during ATP depletion, followed by rephosphorylation during ATP repletion; rephosphorylation of occludin was inhibited by genistein. Furthermore, during the ATP repletion phase, tyrosine phosphorylation of Triton X-100-insoluble occludin, which is localized at the junction, as well as ZO-2, p130/ZO-3 (though not ZO-1), and other proteins was evident; this tyrosine phosphorylation was completely inhibited by genistein. This indicates that tyrosine kinase activity is necessary for TJ reassembly during ATP repletion and suggests an important role for the tyrosine phosphorylation of occludin, ZO-2, p130/ZO-3, and possibly other proteins in the processes involved in TJ (re)formation.

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