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J Cell Sci. 2002 Dec 15;115(Pt 24):4969-76.

Claudin-2 expression induces cation-selective channels in tight junctions of epithelial cells.

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Department of Clinical Physiology, Benjamin Franklin Medical School, Freie Universität Berlin, Hindenburgdamm 30, 12200 Berlin, Germany.


Tight junctions seal the paracellular pathway of epithelia but, in leaky tissues, also exhibit specific permeability. In order to characterize the contribution of claudin-2 to barrier and permeability properties of the tight junction in detail, we studied two strains of Madin-Darby canine kidney cells (MDCK-C7 and MDCK-C11) with different tight junctional permeabilities. Monolayers of C7 cells exhibited a high transepithelial resistance (>1 kOhms cm(2)), compared with C11 cells (<100 Ohms cm(2)). Genuine expression of claudin-1 and claudin-2, but not of occludin or claudin-3, was reciprocal to transepithelial resistance. However, confocal microscopy revealed a marked subjunctional localization of claudin-1 in C11 cells, indicating that claudin-1 is not functionally related to the low tight junctional resistance of C11 cells. Strain MDCK-C7, which endogenously does not express junctional claudin-2, was transfected with claudin-2 cDNA. In transfected cells, but not in vector controls, the protein was detected in colocalization with junctional occludin by means of immunohistochemical analyses. Overexpression of claudin-2 in the originally tight epithelium with claudin-2 cDNA resulted in a 5.6-fold higher paracellular conductivity and relative ion permeabilities of Na(+) identical with 1, K(+)=1.02, NMDG(+)=0.79, choline(+)=0.71, Cl(-)=0.12, Br(-)=0.10 (vector control, 1:1.04:0.95:0.94:0.85:0.83). By contrast, fluxes of (radioactively labeled) mannitol and lactulose and (fluorescence labeled) 4 kDa dextran were not changed. Hence, with regular Ringer's, Na(+) conductivity was 0.2 mS cm(-2) in vector controls and 1.7 mS cm(-2) in claudin-2-transfected cells, while Cl(-) conductivity was 0.2 mS cm(-2) in both cells. Thus, presence of junctional claudin-2 causes the formation of cation-selective channels sufficient to transform a 'tight' tight junction into a leaky one.

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