Claudins of intestine and nephron - a correlation of molecular tight junction structure and barrier function

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2011 Jan;201(1):133-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2010.02148.x.


A prerequisite of epithelial transport is a paracellular barrier function, which seals the tissue against an uncontrolled leak flux. Moreover, selective paracellular permeability has been shown to be crucial for physiological epithelial transport function. Claudins are tetraspan tight junction proteins which play a major role in paracellular ion permeability across epithelia. The multigene family consists of 24 members and several splice variants which show distinct tissue-specific expression profiles. Moreover, in diseases associated with a loss of barrier function such as forms of inflammatory bowel disease, the expression of claudins is altered. Functional characterization of single claudins revealed specific contribution to barrier properties in epithelia. This review gives an overview on the exploration of molecular structure and barrier function along the intestine and nephron, which not only share mechanisms of selective restriction of the paracellular pathway but also exhibit distinct organ-specific characteristics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Claudins / genetics
  • Claudins / metabolism*
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Intestines / ultrastructure
  • Multigene Family
  • Nephrons / physiology*
  • Nephrons / ultrastructure
  • Permeability
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism*
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*
  • Tight Junctions / ultrastructure*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Claudins
  • Protein Isoforms