The transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily V (TRPV), is expressed in the epidermis and considered to be a sensor of extrinsic stimuli such as temperature and other physical or chemical factors. In this study, we examined whether or not the activation of TRPVs by their agonists alters the epidermal tight junction (TJ) function in cultured human epidermal keratinocytes. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses showed that mRNA for TRPV1, 3 and 4 were expressed in differentiated keratinocytes in which TJs had formed. Stimulation of the keratinocytes with a TRPV4 agonist (4α-phorbol 12, 13-didecanoate, 4α-PDD) strengthened the TJ-associated barrier, analyzed by means of transepithelial electric resistance measurements and flux measurements of the paracellular tracer. Stimulation with TRPV1 and TRPV3 agonists did not have the same result. Simultaneously, the 4α-PDD-stimulated keratinocytes showed an upregulation of TJ structural proteins, occludin and claudin-4, and TJ regulatory factors, phospho-atypical PKCζ/ι. It was also observed that the amounts of occludin and phospho-atypical PKCζ/ι complex were higher in 4α-PDD stimulated keratinocytes. In conclusion, we demonstrated that the activation of TRPV4 strengthened the TJ-associated barrier of epidermal cells. It was also suggested that the upregulation of TJ structural proteins and/or the posttranslational modification of TJ structural proteins by phospho-atypical PKCζ/ι are responsible for the enhancement of TJ function. Our study supports the hypothesis that TJs change their function in response to a change in the external environment sensed through TRPVs.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.