Diversity of tight junctions (TJs) between gastrointestinal epithelial cells and their function in maintaining the mucosal barrier

Cell Biol Int. 2009 Jan;33(1):78-82. doi: 10.1016/j.cellbi.2008.09.007. Epub 2008 Oct 7.


The gastrointestinal epithelium, which is covered by a single layer of epithelial cells, including enterocytes, intraepithelial lymphocytes, goblet cells, microfold cells, and dendritic cells, serves as a protective barrier separating luminal contents from the underlying tissue compartments. The epithelium plays an important role in the first line of host defense against a variety of pathogens, as well as maintaining the homeostasis in gastrointestinal tract. All these epithelial cells express junction complex proteins and form cell junctions such as adherens and TJs, although the TJs have small differences among different epithelial cells. The TJs, located most apically on the lateral membrane, are required for the proper formation of epithelial cell polarity as well as sustaining of the mucosal barrier. Furthermore, TJs are the key cell junctions modulating the paracellular pathway. Understanding the diversity of the TJs between intestinal epithelial cells and their different roles in defending pathogens' invasion and modifying the paracellular pathway are attractive to exploration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Enterocytes / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Gastric Mucosa / cytology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / growth & development
  • Helicobacter pylori / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Shigella / growth & development
  • Shigella / metabolism
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*