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J Neurosci. 2000 Dec 1;20(23):RC114.

Reciprocal regulation of the junctional proteins claudin-1 and connexin43 by interleukin-1beta in primary human fetal astrocytes.

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Departments of Neuroscience and Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


Vertebrate tissues use multiple junctional types to establish and maintain tissue architecture, including gap junctions for cytoplasmic connectivity and tight junctions (TJs) for paracellular and/or cell polarity barriers. The integral membrane proteins of gap junctions are connexins, whereas TJs are a complex between occludin and members of a recently characterized multigene family, the claudins. In normal brain, astrocytes are coupled by gap junctions composed primarily of connexin43 (Cx43), whereas TJs have not been detected in these cells. We now show that treatment of primary human astrocytes with the cytokine interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) causes rapid induction of claudin-1, with an expression pattern reciprocal to loss of Cx43. Treatment also led to protracted downregulation of occludin but no change in expression of zonula occludens proteins ZO-1 and -2. Immunofluorescence staining localized claudin-1 to cell membranes in IL-1beta-treated astrocytes, whereas freeze-fracture replicas showed strand-like arrays of intramembranous particles in treated cells resembling rudimentary TJ assemblies. We conclude that in human astrocytes, IL-1beta regulates expression of the claudin multigene family and that gap and tight junction proteins are inversely regulated by this proinflammatory cytokine. We suggest that in pathological conditions of the human CNS, elevated IL-1beta expression fundamentally alters astrocyte-to-astrocyte connectivity.

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