In nephrosis, filtration slits of podocytes are greatly narrowed, and slit diaphragms are displaced by junctions with close contact. Freeze-fracture studies have shown that the newly formed junctions consist of tight junctions and gap junctions. Several tight-junction proteins are known as integral membrane components, including occludin and claudins; but none of them have been found in podocytes. Coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR) has recently been identified as a virus receptor that is a 46-kDa integral membrane protein with two Ig-like domains in the extracellular region. In polarized epithelial cells, CAR is expressed at the tight junction, where it associates with ZO-1 and plays a role in the barrier to the movement of macromolecules and ions. In the present study, we investigated the expression and localization of CAR in rat kidneys treated with puromycin aminonucleoside (PAN) and in rat kidneys perfused for 15 minutes with protamine sulfate (PS). Both the experimental models have been used to induce tight junctions in podocytes. Ribonuclease protection assay and Western blot analysis revealed a distinct increase of CAR transcript and protein in glomeruli during PAN nephrosis but no increase in glomeruli by PS perfusion. Immunohistochemistry revealed a significant increase in CAR staining intensity along the glomerular capillary wall in PAN nephrosis and after PS perfusion. Immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated in both the models that the immunogold particles for CAR along the capillary wall were found predominantly at close cell-cell contact sites of podocytes but were rarely found at slit diaphragms. In cultured podocytes, CAR was localized at cell-cell contact sites. CAR distribution was identical to that of ZO-1 and different from that of a gap junction protein, connexin43. These findings indicate that CAR is an integral membrane component of tight junction in podocytes and that CAR expression in podocytes is regulated at the transcriptional level and in the redistribution of protein.