Occludin and the functions of tight junctions

Int Rev Cytol. 1999;186:117-46. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(08)61052-9.


The tight junction or zonula occludens is the most apical structure of the epithelial junctional complex. Tight junctions from semipermeable intercellular diffusion barriers that control paracellular diffusion in a regulated manner. This intercellular junction also acts as an intramembrane fence that prevents the intermixing of apical and basolateral lipids in the exocytoplasmic leaflet of the plasma membrane. Moreover, evidence suggests that tight junction components participate in the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. Occludin was the first identified transmembrane protein of this intercellular junction and received much attention since its molecular characterization. This review discusses experiments that were done with occludin and how they influenced our current thinking of the molecular functioning of tight junctions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Occludin
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology
  • Tight Junctions / physiology*
  • Tight Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein


  • Membrane Proteins
  • OCLN protein, human
  • Occludin
  • Phosphoproteins
  • TJP1 protein, human
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein