Epithelia are found at the interfaces between body compartments where they act as selective permeability barriers that maintain the unique composition of the compartments on either side. Epithelial barrier function is dependent on tight junctions (TJs), which seal the intercellular or paracellular spaces but may permit selective permeability. In simple epithelia (one cell thick), the function of TJs is relatively well understood. By contrast, our understanding of TJ structure and function in stratified epithelia (e.g. the epidermis) is limited. This article briefly discusses what is known about TJs and their components in simple epithelia and speculates about their roles in the epidermis.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.