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Mol Biotechnol. 2007 Jun;36(2):166-74.

The targeted overexpression of a Claudin mutant in the epidermis of transgenic mice elicits striking epidermal and hair follicle abnormalities.

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Ottawa Health Research Institute, 725 Parkdale Avenue, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1Y 4E9.


Skin is one of the largest organs of the body, and is formed during development through a highly orchestrated process involving mesenchymal-epithelial interactions, cell commitment, and terminal differentiation. It protects against microorganism invasion and UV irradiation, inhibits water loss, regulates body temperature, and is an important part of the immune system. Using transgenic mouse technology, we have demonstrated that Claudin (Cldn)-containing tight junctions (TJs) are intricately involved in cell signaling during epidermal differentiation and that an epidermal suprabasal overexpression of Cldn6 results in a perturbed epidermal terminal differentiation program with distinct phenotypic abnormalities. To delineate the role of the Cldn cytoplasmic tail domain in epidermal differentiation, we engineered transgenic mice targeting the overexpression of a Cldn6 cytoplasmic tail-truncation mutant in the epidermis. Transgenic mice were characterized by a lethal barrier dysfunction in addition to the existence of hyperproliferative squamous invaginations/cysts replacing hair follicles. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed an epidermal cytoplasmic accumulation of Cldn6, Cldn11, Cldn12, and Cldn18, downregulation of Cldn1 and aberrant expression of various classical markers of epidermal differentiation; namely the basal keratins as well as K1, involucrin, loricrin, and filaggrin. Collectively these studies suggest an important role for Cldns in epidermal/hair follicle differentiation programs likely involving cross talk to signaling pathways (e.g., Notch) directing cell fate selection and differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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