Claudin-21 Has a Paracellular Channel Role at Tight Junctions

Hiroo Tanaka, Yasuko Yamamoto, Hiroka Kashihara, Yuji Yamazaki, Kazutoshi Tani, Yoshinori Fujiyoshi, Katsuhiko Mineta, Kosei Takeuchi, Atsushi Tamura, Sachiko Tsukita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Claudin protein family members, of which there are at least 27 in humans and mice, polymerize to form tight junctions (TJs) between epithelial cells, in a tissue- and developmental stage-specific manner. Claudins have a paracellular barrier function. In addition, certain claudins function as paracellular channels for small ions and/or solutes by forming selective pores at the TJs, although the specific claudins involved and their functional mechanisms are still in question. Here we show for the first time that claudin-21, which is more highly expressed in the embryonic than the postnatal stages, acts as a paracellular channel for small cations, such as Na+, similar to the typical channel-type claudins claudin-2 and -15. Claudin-21 also allows the paracellular passage of larger solutes. Our findings suggest that claudin-21-based TJs allow the passage of small and larger solutes by both paracellular channel-based and some additional mechanisms. © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)954-964
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 4 2016


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