Intestinal epithelial tight junctions (TJs) are a specialized structure that determines the cell polarity and prevents the diffusion of toxins, allergens, and pathogens from the lumen into the tissue. TJs are highly dynamic and its constituent protein complexes undergo continuously remodeling and turnover under tight regulation by numerous extracellular and intracellular factors. RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level and are involved in many aspects of cellular physiology. An increasing body of evidence indicates that RBPs including HuR and CUG-binding protein 1 and miRNAs such as miR-192 modulate the stability and translation of mRNAs encoding TJ proteins and play an important role in the control of intestinal epithelial TJ barrier function. In this mini-review article, we highlight the changes in TJ expression and intestinal epithelial TJ barrier function after activation or inactivation of RBPs and miRNAs and further analyze in some detail the mechanisms through which the stability and translation of TJ mRNAs are regulated by RBPs and miRNAs.
Keywords: RNA-binding proteins; intercellular junctions; intestinal epithelium; mRNA stability and translation; microRNAs; permeability.