Desmosomes are cell–cell adhesion structures whose canonical functions are control of intermediate filament organization and tissue strength. In the intestinal epithelium, desmosomes do not mediate these functions but instead control the brush border architecture of the enterocytes.
Maintaining proper cell–cell adhesion in the intestine is essential for tissue homeostasis and barrier function. This adhesion is thought to be mediated by cell adhesion structures, including tight junctions, adherens junctions, and desmosomes, which concentrate in the apical junctional region. While clear roles for adherens and tight junctions have been established in simple epithelia, the function of desmosomes has not been addressed. In stratified epithelia, desmosomes impart mechanical strength to tissues by organizing and anchoring the keratin filament network. In this paper, we report that the desmosomal protein desmoplakin (DP) is not essential for cell adhesion in the intestinal epithelium. Surprisingly, when DP is lacking, keratin filament localization is also unperturbed, although keratin filaments no longer anchor at desmosomes. Unexpectedly, DP is important for proper microvillus structure. Our study highlights the tissue-specific functions of desmosomes and reveals that the canonical functions for these structures are not conserved in simple epithelium.
The role of the epithelial adhesion molecule uvomorulin in the formation of the epithelial junctional complex in the Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell line was investigated. Experiments were carried out to determine whether specific inhibition of uvomorulin function would interfere selectively with the formation, stability, or function of the apical zonula adherens (ZA) and zonula occludens (ZO), or whether it would interfere with all forms of intercellular contact including the desmosomes. The effects of blocking antibodies and Fab fragments to uvomorulin on the formation of the junctional complex was examined with a Ca2+ switch assay for de novo junction assembly. The formation of the ZO, the ZA, and the desmosomes was assayed by fluorescence staining with an antibody to the tight junction-specific protein ZO-1, with rhodamine-phalloidin for ZA-associated actin filaments, and with an anti-desmoplakin antibody, respectively. Under different conditions and times of antibody treatment the extent of inhibition of the formation of each of the junctional elements was very similar. The ability of the cells to eventually overcome the inhibitory effect of the antibodies and form junctions correlated with the reappearance of uvomorulin at the regions of cell-cell contact. Therefore uvomorulin seems to mediate an early adhesion event between epithelial cells that is a prerequisite for the assembly of all elements of the junctional complex. In contrast, the transepithelial electrical resistance of confluent, well-established monolayers of MDCK cells grown on filters was not greatly affected by treatment with the various antibodies or Fab fragments. A small transient decrease in resistance observed with the polyclonal alpha-uvomorulin IgG may be due to a more subtle modulation of the junctional complex.
Desmosomes are patch-like intercellular adhering junctions (“maculae adherentes”), which, in concert with the related adherens junctions, provide the mechanical strength to intercellular adhesion. Therefore, it is not surprising that desmosomes are abundant in tissues subjected to significant mechanical stress such as stratified epithelia and myocardium. Desmosomal adhesion is based on the Ca2+-dependent, homo- and heterophilic transinteraction of cadherin-type adhesion molecules. Desmosomal cadherins are anchored to the intermediate filament cytoskeleton by adaptor proteins of the armadillo and plakin families. Desmosomes are dynamic structures subjected to regulation and are therefore targets of signalling pathways, which control their molecular composition and adhesive properties. Moreover, evidence is emerging that desmosomal components themselves take part in outside-in signalling under physiologic and pathologic conditions. Disturbed desmosomal adhesion contributes to the pathogenesis of a number of diseases such as pemphigus, which is caused by autoantibodies against desmosomal cadherins. Beside pemphigus, desmosome-associated diseases are caused by other mechanisms such as genetic defects or bacterial toxins. Because most of these diseases affect the skin, desmosomes are interesting not only for cell biologists who are inspired by their complex structure and molecular composition, but also for clinical physicians who are confronted with patients suffering from severe blistering skin diseases such as pemphigus. To develop disease-specific therapeutic approaches, more insights into the molecular composition and regulation of desmosomes are required.
Desmosomes; Desmogleins; Pemphigus; Autoantibodies; Steric hindrance; Desmoglein compensation
The organization of metazoa is based on the formation of tissues and on tissue-typical functions and these in turn are based on cell–cell connecting structures. In vertebrates, four major forms of cell junctions have been classified and the molecular composition of which has been elucidated in the past three decades: Desmosomes, which connect epithelial and some other cell types, and the almost ubiquitous adherens junctions are based on closely cis-packed glycoproteins, cadherins, which are associated head-to-head with those of the hemi-junction domain of an adjacent cell, whereas their cytoplasmic regions assemble sizable plaques of special proteins anchoring cytoskeletal filaments. In contrast, the tight junctions (TJs) and gap junctions (GJs) are formed by tetraspan proteins (claudins and occludins, or connexins) arranged head-to-head as TJ seal bands or as paracrystalline connexin channels, allowing intercellular exchange of small molecules. The by and large parallel discoveries of the junction protein families are reported.
Werner Franke looks back over more than three decades of research into the structure and function of cell junctions.
The tight junction, or zonula occludens, forms an intercellular barrier between epithelial cells within the gastrointestinal tract and liver and, by limiting the movement of water and solutes through the intercellular space, maintains the physicochemical separation of tissue compartments. The paracellular barrier properties of junctions are regulated and quite different among epithelia. The junction also forms an intramembrane barrier between the apical and basolateral membrane domains, contributing to segregation of biochemically distinct components of these plasma membrane surfaces. Here we briefly review three rapidly developing areas of medically relevant basic knowledge about the tight junction. First, we describe the presently incomplete knowledge of the molecular structure of the tight junction as a framework for understanding its functional properties. Second, we consider experimental evidence defining how the barrier properties of junctions are physiologically regulated and, third, how barrier properties are specifically altered in, and contribute to, pathologic processes affecting epithelia.
Anchoring junctions are cell adhesion apparatus present in all epithelia and endothelia. They are found at the cell-cell interface (adherens junction (AJ) and desmosome) and cell-matrix interface (focal contact and hemidesmosome). In this review, we focus our discussion on AJ in particular the dynamic changes and regulation of this junction type in normal epithelia using testis as a model. There are extensive restructuring of AJ (e.g., ectoplasmic specialization, ES, a testis-specific AJ) at the Sertoli-Sertoli cell interface (basal ES) and Sertoli-elongating spermatid interface (apical ES) during the seminiferous epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis to facilitate the migration of developing germ cells across the seminiferous epithelium. Furthermore, recent findings have shown that ES also confers cell orientation and polarity in the seminiferous epithelium, illustrating that some of the functions initially ascribed to tight junctions (TJ), such as conferring cell polarity, are also part of the inherent properties of the AJ (e.g., apical ES) in the testis. The biology and regulation based on recent studies in the testis are of interest to cell biologists in the field, in particular their regulation, which perhaps is applicable to tumorigenesis.
Anchoring junction; adherens junction; testis; spermatogenesis; ectoplasmic specialization; atypical adherens junction
A fine structural analysis of the cuticle, epidermal epithelium, and underlying fibrous tissue of the earthworm is presented. The extreme scarcity or absence of fibroblasts in this animal is pointed out. This finding is further evidence for the epithelial origin of the cuticular fibers, and suggests that at least some of the collagenous connective tissue fibers in the interior of this animal are epithelial in origin. The junctional specializations that unite epithelial cells in the epidermis and intestine are described. Of special interest is the fact that the septate desmosome rather than the tight junction is found in these epithelia. It is shown that the septa are not extensions of the plasma membrane across the intercellular gap. Finally, the nature of the small ellipsoidal bodies that are embedded in the outer layer of the cuticle is discussed.
Tight junctions are the most apical components of endothelial and epithelial intercellular cleft. In the endothelium these structures play an important role in the control of paracellular permeability to circulating cells and solutes. The only known integral membrane protein localized at sites of membrane–membrane interaction of tight junctions is occludin, which is linked inside the cells to a complex network of cytoskeletal and signaling proteins. We report here the identification of a novel protein (junctional adhesion molecule [JAM]) that is selectively concentrated at intercellular junctions of endothelial and epithelial cells of different origins. Confocal and immunoelectron microscopy shows that JAM codistributes with tight junction components at the apical region of the intercellular cleft. A cDNA clone encoding JAM defines a novel immunoglobulin gene superfamily member that consists of two V-type Ig domains. An mAb directed to JAM (BV11) was found to inhibit spontaneous and chemokine-induced monocyte transmigration through an endothelial cell monolayer in vitro. Systemic treatment of mice with BV11 mAb blocked monocyte infiltration upon chemokine administration in subcutaneous air pouches. Thus, JAM is a new component of endothelial and epithelial junctions that play a role in regulating monocyte transmigration.
endothelium; epithelium; monocyte; tight junctions; inflammation
The human vaginal microbiome plays a critical but poorly defined role in reproductive health. Vaginal microbiome alterations are associated with increased susceptibility to sexually-transmitted infections (STI) possibly due to related changes in innate defense responses from epithelial cells. Study of the impact of commensal bacteria on the vaginal mucosal surface has been hindered by current vaginal epithelial cell (VEC) culture systems that lack an appropriate interface between the apical surface of stratified squamous epithelium and the air-filled vaginal lumen. Therefore we developed a reproducible multilayer VEC culture system with an apical (luminal) air-interface that supported colonization with selected commensal bacteria. Multilayer VEC developed tight-junctions and other hallmarks of the vaginal mucosa including predictable proinflammatory cytokine secretion following TLR stimulation. Colonization of multilayers by common vaginal commensals including Lactobacillus crispatus, L. jensenii, and L. rhamnosus led to intimate associations with the VEC exclusively on the apical surface. Vaginal commensals did not trigger cytokine secretion but Staphylococcus epidermidis, a skin commensal, was inflammatory. Lactobacilli reduced cytokine secretion in an isolate-specific fashion following TLR stimulation. This tempering of inflammation offers a potential explanation for increased susceptibility to STI in the absence of common commensals and has implications for testing of potential STI preventatives.
The epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin)–catenin complex binds to cytoskeletal components and regulatory and signaling molecules to form a mature adherens junction (AJ). This dynamic structure physically connects neighboring epithelial cells, couples intercellular adhesive contacts to the cytoskeleton, and helps define each cell’s apical–basal axis. Together these activities coordinate the form, polarity, and function of all cells in an epithelium. Several molecules regulate AJ formation and integrity, including Rho family GTPases and Par polarity proteins. However, only recently, with the development of live-cell imaging, has the extent to which E-cadherin is actively turned over at junctions begun to be appreciated. This turnover contributes to junction formation and to the maintenance of epithelial integrity during tissue homeostasis and remodeling.
To acquire system-level understanding of the intercellular junctional complex, protein–protein interactions occurring at the junctions of simple epithelial cells have been examined by network analysis. Although proper hubs (i.e., very rare proteins with exceedingly high connectivity) were absent from the junctional network, the most connected (albeit nonhub) proteins displayed a significant association with essential genes and contributed to the “small world” properties of the network (as shown by in vivo and in silico deletion, respectively). In addition, compared with a random network, the junctional network had greater tendency to form modules and subnets of densely interconnected proteins. Module analysis highlighted general organizing principles of the junctional complex. In particular, two major modules (corresponding to the tight junctions and to the adherens junctions/desmosomes) were linked preferentially to two other modules that acted as structural and signaling platforms.
Immunocytochemical, electron-, and immunoelectron-microscopical studies have revealed that, in addition to the four major “textbook categories” of cell-cell junctions (gap junctions, tight junctions, adherens junctions, and desmosomes), a broad range of other junctions exists, such as the tiny puncta adhaerentia minima, the taproot junctions (manubria adhaerentia), the plakophilin-2-containing adherens junctions of mesenchymal or mesenchymally derived cell types including malignantly transformed cells, the composite junctions (areae compositae) of the mature mammalian myocardium, the cortex adhaerens of the eye lens, the interdesmosomal “sandwich” or “stud” junctions in the subapical layers of stratified epithelia and the tumors derived therefrom, and the complexus adhaerentes of the endothelial and virgultar cells of the lymph node sinus. On the basis of their sizes and shapes, other morphological criteria, and their specific molecular ensembles, these junctions and the genes that encode them cannot be subsumed under one of the major categories mentioned above but represent special structures in their own right, appear to serve special functions, and can give rise to specific pathological disorders.
Junctions; Desmosomes; Area composita; Filopodium; Plaque
Helicobacter pylori translocates the protein CagA into gastric epithelial cells and has been linked to peptic ulcer disease and gastric carcinoma. We show that injected CagA associates with the epithelial tight-junction scaffolding protein ZO-1 and the transmembrane protein junctional adhesion molecule, causing an ectopic assembly of tight-junction components at sites of bacterial attachment, and altering the composition and function of the apical-junctional complex. Long-term CagA delivery to polarized epithelia caused a disruption of the epithelial barrier function and dysplastic alterations in epithelial cell morphology. CagA appears to target H.pylori to host cell intercellular junctions and to disrupt junction-mediated functions.
Proper development and tissue maintenance requires cell-cell adhesion structures, which serve diverse and crucial roles in tissue morphogenesis. Epithelial tissues have three main types of cell-cell junctions: tight junctions, which play a major role in barrier formation, and adherens junctions and desmosomes, which provide mechanical stability and organize the underlying cytoskeleton. Our current understanding of adhesion function is hindered by a lack of tools and methods to image junctions in mammals. To better understand the dynamics of adhesion in tissues we have created a knock-in ZO-1-GFP mouse and a BAC-transgenic mouse expressing desmoplakin I-GFP. We performed fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments to quantify the turnover rates of the tight junction protein ZO-1, the adherens junction protein E-cadherin, and the desmosomal protein desmoplakin in the epidermis. Proteins at each type of junction are remarkably stable in the epidermis, in contrast to the high observed mobility of E-cadherin and ZO-1 at adherens junctions and tight junctions, respectively, in cultured cells. Our data demonstrate that there are additional mechanisms for stabilizing junctions in tissues that are not modeled by cell culture.
We investigated the hypothesis that 30 minutes of raised intensity phonation alters transcript levels of vocal fold intercellular tight junction proteins and disrupts the vocal fold epithelial barrier.
Prospective animal study.
Eighteen New Zealand white breeder rabbits were randomly assigned to receive 30 minutes of raised intensity phonation or approximation of the vocal folds without phonation. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to investigate transcript levels of the epithelial intercellular tight junction proteins, occludin and zonula occludin-1 (Z0-1), and the adherens junction proteins β-catenin and E-cadherin. Structural alterations to the vocal fold epithelium were further examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
Mann Whitney U revealed significantly decreased occludin (P = .016) and β-catenin (P = .016) gene expression from rabbits undergoing raised intensity phonation, compared to control. There were no significant differences in Z0-1 and E-Cadherin gene expression between groups (P >.025). SEM revealed significant obliteration, desquamation, and evidence of microhole formation in rabbit vocal folds exposed to raised intensity phonation, compared to control, while TEM revealed dilated intercellular morphology between groups.
Results provide support for the hypothesis that a transient episode of raised intensity phonation alters transcript levels of vocal fold intercellular tight junction proteins and disrupts integrity of the epithelial barrier. The loss of barrier integrity may have significant consequences on epithelial defenses and compromise protection of the underlying mucosa from damage secondary to prolonged vibration exposure.
vocal fold; phonation; phonotrauma; epithelium; tight junction proteins
The foot processes of glomerular epithelial cells of the mammalian kidney are firmly attached to one another by shallow intercellular junctions or slit diaphragms of unknown composition. We have investigated the molecular nature of these junctions using an antibody that recognizes ZO-1, a protein that is specific for the tight junction or zonula occludens. By immunoblotting the affinity purified anti-ZO-1 IgG recognizes a single 225-kD band in kidney cortex and in slit diaphragm-enriched fractions as in other tissues. When ZO-1 was localized by immunofluorescence in kidney tissue of adult rats, the protein was detected in epithelia of all segments of the nephron, but the glomerular epithelium was much more intensely stained than any other epithelium. Among tubule epithelia the signal for ZO-1 correlated with the known fibril content and physiologic tightness of the junctions, i.e., it was highest in distal and collecting tubules and lowest in the proximal tubule. By immunoelectron microscopy ZO-1 was found to be concentrated on the cytoplasmic surface of the tight junctional membrane. Within the glomerulus ZO-1 was localized predominantly in the epithelial foot processes where it was concentrated precisely at the points of insertion of the slit diaphragms into the lateral cell membrane. Its distribution appeared to be continuous along the continuous slit membrane junction. When ZO-1 was localized in differentiating glomeruli in the newborn rat kidney, it was present early in development when the apical junctional complexes between presumptive podocytes are composed of typical tight and adhering junctions. It remained associated with these junctions during the time they migrate down the lateral cell surface, disappear and are replaced by slit diaphragms. The distribution of ZO-1 and the close developmental relationship between the two junctions suggest that the slit diaphragm is a variant of the tight junction that shares with it at least one structural protein and the functional property of defining distinctive plasmalemmal domains. The glomerular epithelium is unique among renal epithelia in that ZO-1 is present, but the intercellular spaces are wide open and no fibrils are seen by freeze fracture. The presence of ZO-1 along slit membranes indicates that expression of ZO-1 alone does not lead to tight junction assembly.
A principal role of tight junctions is to seal the apical intercellular space and limit paracellular flux of ions and molecules. Despite the fact that tight junctions form heavily cross-linked structures, functional studies have fostered the hypothesis that the tight junction barrier is dynamic and defined by opening and closing events. However, it has been impossible to directly measure tight junction barrier function with sufficient resolution to detect such events. Nevertheless, recent electrophysiological and sieving studies have provided tremendous insight into the presence of at least two pathways of trans-tight junction flux: a high-capacity ion-selective “pore” pathway and a low-capacity “leak” pathway that allows the passage of macromolecules. Furthermore, it is now known that the tight junction molecular structure is highly dynamic and that dynamics are correlated with barrier function. Taken together, these data support a dynamic model of tight junction conductance and suggest that regulation of tight junction openings and closings may provide sensitive means of barrier regulation.
tight junction; FRAP; claudin; occluding; ZO-1
Adherens junctions and desmosomes are intercellular adhesive junctions and essential for the morphogenesis, differentiation, and maintenance of tissues that are subjected to high mechanical stress, including heart and skin. The different junction complexes are organized at the termini of the cardiomyocyte called the intercalated disc. Disruption of adhesive integrity via mutations in genes encoding desmosomal proteins causes an inherited heart disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Besides plakoglobin, which is shared by adherens junctions and desmosomes, other desmosomal components, desmoglein-2, desmocollin-2, plakophilin-2, and desmoplakin are also present in ultrastructurally defined fascia adherens junctions of heart muscle, but not other tissues. This mixed-type of junctional structure is termed hybrid adhering junction or area composita. Desmosomal plakophilin-2 directly interacts with adherens junction protein alphaT-catenin, providing a new molecular link between the cadherin-catenin complex and desmosome. The area composita only exists in the cardiac intercalated disc of mammalian species suggesting that it evolved to strengthen mechanical coupling in the heart of higher vertebrates. The cross-talk among different junctions and their implication in the pathogenesis of ARVC are discussed in this review.
Squamous epithelial cells have both adherens junctions and desmosomes. The ability of these cells to organize the desmosomal proteins into a functional structure depends upon their ability first to organize an adherens junction. Since the adherens junction and the desmosome are separate structures with different molecular make up, it is not immediately obvious why formation of an adherens junction is a prerequisite for the formation of a desmosome. The adherens junction is composed of a transmembrane classical cadherin (E-cadherin and/or P-cadherin in squamous epithelial cells) linked to either β-catenin or plakoglobin, which is linked to α-catenin, which is linked to the actin cytoskeleton. The desmosome is composed of transmembrane proteins of the broad cadherin family (desmogleins and desmocollins) that are linked to the intermediate filament cytoskeleton, presumably through plakoglobin and desmoplakin. To begin to study the role of adherens junctions in the assembly of desmosomes, we produced an epithelial cell line that does not express classical cadherins and hence is unable to organize desmosomes, even though it retains the requisite desmosomal components. Transfection of E-cadherin and/or P-cadherin into this cell line did not restore the ability to organize desmosomes; however, overexpression of plakoglobin, along with E-cadherin, did permit desmosome organization. These data suggest that plakoglobin, which is the only known common component to both adherens junctions and desmosomes, must be linked to E-cadherin in the adherens junction before the cell can begin to assemble desmosomal components at regions of cell–cell contact. Although adherens junctions can form in the absence of plakoglobin, making use only of β-catenin, such junctions cannot support the formation of desmosomes. Thus, we speculate that plakoglobin plays a signaling role in desmosome organization.
The epithelia of a number of glands and cavitary organs of the rat and guinea pig have been surveyed, and in all cases investigated, a characteristic tripartite junctional complex has been found between adjacent cells. Although the complex differs in precise arrangement from one organ to another, it has been regularly encountered in the mucosal epithelia of the stomach, intestine, gall bladder, uterus, and oviduct; in the glandular epithelia of the liver, pancreas, parotid, stomach, and thyroid; in the epithelia of pancreatic, hepatic, and salivary ducts; and finally, between the epithelial cells of the nephron (proximal and distal convolution, collecting ducts). The elements of the complex, identified as zonula occludens (tight junction), zonula adhaerens (intermediary junction), and macula adhaerens (desmosome), occupy a juxtaluminal position and succeed each other in the order given in an apical-basal direction. The zonula occludens (tight junction) is characterized by fusion of the adjacent cell membranes resulting in obliteration of the intercellular space over variable distances. Within the obliterated zone, the dense outer leaflets of the adjoining cell membranes converge to form a single intermediate line. A diffuse band of dense cytoplasmic material is often associated with this junction, but its development varies from one epithelium to another. The zonula adhaerens (intermediate junction) is characterized by the presence of an intercellular space (∼200 A) occupied by homogeneous, apparently amorphous material of low density; by strict parallelism of the adjoining cell membranes over distances of 0.2 to 0.5 µ; and by conspicuous bands of dense material located in the subjacent cytoplasmic matrix. The desmosome or macula adhaerens is also characterized by the presence of an intercellular space (∼240 A) which, in this case, contains a central disc of dense material; by discrete cytoplasmic plaques disposed parallel to the inner leaflet of each cell membrane; and by the presence of bundles of cytoplasmic fibrils converging on the plaques. The zonula occludens appears to form a continuous belt-like attachment, whereas the desmosome is a discontinuous, button-like structure. The zomula adhaerens is continuous in most epithelia but discontinuous in some. Observations made during experimental hemoglobinuria in rats showed that the hemoglobin, which undergoes enough concentration in the nephron lumina to act as an electron-opaque mass tracer, does not penetrate the intercellular spaces beyond the zonula occludens. Similar observations were made in pancreatic acini and ducts where discharged zymogen served as a mass tracer. Hence the tight junction is impervious to concentrated protein solutions and appears to function as a diffusion barrier or "seal." The desmosome and probably also the zonula adhaerens may represent intercellular attachment devices.
Snail family genes encode DNA binding zinc finger proteins that act as transcriptional repressors. Mouse embryos deficient for the Snail (Sna) gene exhibit defects in the formation of the mesoderm germ layer. In Sna−/− mutant embryos, a mesoderm layer forms and mesodermal marker genes are induced but the mutant mesoderm is morphologically abnormal. Lacunae form within the mesoderm layer of the mutant embryos, and cells lining these lacunae retain epithelial characteristics. These cells resemble a columnar epithelium and have apical-basal polarity, with microvilli along the apical surface and intercellular electron-dense adhesive junctions that resemble adherens junctions. E-cadherin expression is retained in the mesoderm of the Sna−/− embryos. These defects are strikingly similar to the gastrulation defects observed in snail-deficient Drosophila embryos, suggesting that the mechanism of repression of E-cadherin transcription by Snail family proteins may have been present in the metazoan ancestor of the arthropod and mammalian lineages.
C. elegans provides a simplified, in vivo model system in which to study adherens junctions and their role in morphogenesis. The core adherens junction components – HMR-1/E-cadherin, HMP-2/β-catenin and HMP-1/α-catenin – were initially identified through genetic screens for mutants with body axis elongation defects. In early embryos, adherens junction proteins are found at sites of contact between blastomeres, and in epithelial cells adherens junction proteins localize to the multifaceted apical junction (CeAJ) – a single structure that combines the adhesive and barrier functions of vertebrate adherens and tight junctions. The apically localized polarity proteins PAR-3 and PAR-6 mediate formation and maturation of junctions, while the basolaterally localized regulator LET-413/Scribble ensures that junctions remain apically positioned. Adherens junctions promote robust adhesion between epithelial cells and provide mechanical resistance for the physical strains of morphogenesis. However, in contrast to vertebrates, C. elegans adherens junction proteins are not essential for general cell adhesion or for epithelial cell polarization. A combination of conserved and novel proteins localizes to the CeAJ and works together with adherens junctions proteins to mediate adhesion.
The functional effects of cytoplasmic actins on epithelial junctions are examined by using isoform-specific siRNAs and cell-permeable inhibitory peptides. Unique roles of cytoplasmic actin isoforms in regulating structure and remodeling of adherens and tight junctions are revealed.
Association with the actin cytoskeleton is critical for normal architecture and dynamics of epithelial tight junctions (TJs) and adherens junctions (AJs). Epithelial cells express β-cytoplasmic (β-CYA) and γ-cytoplasmic (γ-CYA) actins, which have different cellular localization and functions. This study elucidates the roles of cytoplasmic actins in regulating structure and remodeling of AJs and TJs in model intestinal epithelia. Immunofluorescence labeling and latrunculin B treatment reveal affiliation of dynamic β-CYA filaments with newly assembled and mature AJs, whereas an apical γ-CYA pool is composed of stable perijunctional bundles and rapidly turning-over nonjunctional filaments. The functional effects of cytoplasmic actins on epithelial junctions are examined by using isoform-specific small interfering RNAs and cell-permeable inhibitory peptides. These experiments demonstrate unique roles of β-CYA and γ-CYA in regulating the steady-state integrity of AJs and TJs, respectively. Furthermore, β-CYA is selectively involved in establishment of apicobasal cell polarity. Both actin isoforms are essential for normal barrier function of epithelial monolayers, rapid AJ/TJ reassembly, and formation of three-dimensional cysts. Cytoplasmic actin isoforms play unique roles in regulating structure and permeability of epithelial junctions.
Campylobacter jejuni is a leading cause of human enterocolitis and is associated with postinfectious complications, including irritable bowel syndrome and Guillain-Barré syndrome. However, the pathogenesis of C. jejuni infection remains poorly understood. Paracellular pathways in intestinal epithelial cells are gated by intercellular junctions (tight junctions and adherens junctions), providing a functional barrier between luminal microbes and host immune cells in the lamina propria. Here we describe alterations in tight junctions in intestinal epithelial monolayers following C. jejuni infection. Apical infection of polarized T84 monolayers caused a time-dependent decrease in transepithelial electrical resistance (TER). Immunofluorescence microscopy revealed a redistribution of the tight junctional transmembrane protein occludin from an intercellular to an intracellular location. Subcellular fractionation using equilibrium sucrose density gradients demonstrated decreased hyperphosphorylated occludin in lipid rafts, Triton X-100-soluble fractions, and the Triton X-100-insoluble pellet following apical infection. Apical infection with C. jejuni also caused rapid activation of NF-κB and AP-1, phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase, Jun N-terminal protein kinase, and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases, and basolateral secretion of the CXC chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8). Basolateral infection with C. jejuni caused a more rapid decrease in TER, comparable redistribution of tight-junction proteins, and secretion of more IL-8 than that seen with apical infection. These results suggest that compromised barrier function and increased chemokine expression contribute to the pathogenesis of C. jejuni-induced enterocolitis.
Hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) stimulates the motility of epithelial cells, initially inducing centrifugal spreading of colonies followed by disruption of cell–cell junctions and subsequent cell scattering. In Madin–Darby canine kidney cells, HGF/SF-induced motility involves actin reorganization mediated by Ras, but whether Ras and downstream signals regulate the breakdown of intercellular adhesions has not been established. Both HGF/SF and V12Ras induced the loss of the adherens junction proteins E-cadherin and β-catenin from intercellular junctions during cell spreading, and the HGF/SF response was blocked by dominant-negative N17Ras. Desmosomes and tight junctions were regulated separately from adherens junctions, because they were not disrupted by V12Ras. MAP kinase, phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase), and Rac were required downstream of Ras, because loss of adherens junctions was blocked by the inhibitors PD098059 and LY294002 or by dominant-inhibitory mutants of MAP kinase kinase 1 or Rac1. All of these inhibitors also prevented HGF/SF-induced cell scattering. Interestingly, activated Raf or the activated p110α subunit of PI 3-kinase alone did not induce disruption of adherens junctions. These results indicate that activation of both MAP kinase and PI 3-kinase by Ras is required for adherens junction disassembly and that this is essential for the motile response to HGF/SF.