Tight Junctions in the Auditory System: Structure, Distribution and Function

Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2023;24(3):203-214. doi: 10.2174/1389203724666230222102454.


Tight junctions act as a barrier between epithelial cells to limit the transport of the paracellular substance, which is a required function in various tissues to sequestrate diverse microenvironments and maintain a normal physiological state. Tight junctions are complexes that contain various proteins, like transmembrane proteins, scaffolding proteins, signaling proteins, etc. Defects in those tight junction- related proteins can lead to hearing loss in humans which is also recapitulated in many model organisms. The disruption of the barrier between the endolymph and perilymph caused by tight junction abnormalities will affect the microenvironment of hair cells; and this could be the reason for this type of hearing loss. Besides their functions as a typical barrier and channel, tight junctions are also involved in many signaling networks to regulate gene expression, cell proliferation, and differentiation. This review will summarize the structures, localization, and related signaling pathways of hearingrelated tight junction proteins and their potential contributions to the hearing disorder.

Keywords: Tight junction; deafness therapy; epithelial membranes; hair cells; hearing loss; signaling pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Hearing Loss* / genetics
  • Hearing Loss* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Tight Junction Proteins / genetics
  • Tight Junction Proteins / metabolism
  • Tight Junctions* / chemistry
  • Tight Junctions* / genetics
  • Tight Junctions* / metabolism


  • Tight Junction Proteins