TNF-α plays an important role in the pathogenesis of salivary inflammatory diseases. Salivary dysfunction, which leads to impaired saliva secretion, can be caused by TNF-α-induced disrupted epithelial barrier. However, the signaling mechanism involved in TNF-α-modulated tight junction barrier in salivary gland remains unclear. Here, we found that TNF-α reduced transepithelial resistance (TER) and increased FITC-dextran flux in a rat submandibular cell line SMG-C6. Claudin (Cln)-3 was selectively downregulated and disrupted by TNF-α, whereas Cln-1, Cln-4, and β-catenin were not affected. Overexpression of Cln-3 retained and Cln-3 knockdown abolished the TNF-α-induced alterations. Moreover, TNF-α increased extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) phosphorylation and the expression of transcriptional factor slug. ERK1/2 kinase inhibitor PD98059 abrogated TNF-α-induced increase in paracellular permeability, alterations of Cln-3, and elevation of slug. Overexpression of slug decreased and slug knockdown increased Cln-3 expression. In addition, slug bind to the E-box elements of Cln-3 promoter in TNF-α-treated cells, and this response was blocked by PD98059. Furthermore, TNF-α decreased Cln-3 expression and increased slug content in cultured human submandibular gland. Taken together, our data suggest that Cln-3 plays a vital role in TNF-α-modulated paracellular permeability in submandibular epithelium and ERK1/2/slug signaling axis is involved in alteration of Cln-3 redistribution and downregulation.
Keywords: Claudin-3; ERK1/2; Paracellular permeability; Slug; Submandibular gland; TNF-α.
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