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Keywords:

  • tight junction;
  • claudin;
  • occluding;
  • zonula occludens;
  • tetraspanin;
  • epithelium;
  • cancer

Abstract

Transmembrane proteins known as claudins play a critical role in tight junctions by regulating paracellular barrier permeability. The control of claudin assembly into tight junctions requires a complex interplay between several classes of claudins, other transmembrane proteins and scaffold proteins. Claudins are also subject to regulation by post-translational modifications including phosphorylation and palmitoylation. Several human diseases have been linked to claudin mutations, underscoring the physiologic function of these proteins. Roles for claudins in regulating cell phenotype and growth control also are beginning to emerge, suggesting a multifaceted role for claudins in regulation of cells beyond serving as a simple structural element of tight junctions. © 2009 IUBMB IUBMB Life, 61(4):431–437, 2009