Setting up a selective barrier at the apical junction complex

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2004 Apr;16(2):140-5. doi: 10.1016/


Across the animal kingdom the apical junction complex of epithelial cells creates both a permeability barrier and cell polarity. Although based on overlapping and evolutionarily conserved proteins, the cell-cell contacts of nematodes, flies and mammals appear to differ in morphology and functional organization. Emerging evidence shows that the selective pore-like properties of vertebrate and invertebrate barriers are created by the claudin family. Similarly, assembly of the barriers requires a conserved set of polarity-generating protein complexes, particularly the PAR protein complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / metabolism*
  • Adherens Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Claudin-1
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Species Specificity
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*
  • Tight Junctions / ultrastructure


  • CLDN1 protein, human
  • Claudin-1
  • Membrane Proteins