Tight junction (TJ) proteins form a continuous intercellular network creating a barrier with selective regulation of water, ion, and solutes across endothelial, epithelial, and glial tissues. TJ proteins include the claudin family that confers barrier properties, members of the MARVEL family that contribute to barrier regulation, and JAM molecules, which regulate junction organization and diapedesis. In addition, the membrane-associated proteins such as MAGUK family members, i.e., zonula occludens, form the scaffold linking the transmembrane proteins to both cell signaling molecules and the cytoskeleton. Most studies of TJ have focused on the contribution to cell-cell adhesion and tissue barrier properties. However, recent studies reveal that, similar to adherens junction proteins, TJ proteins contribute to the control of cell proliferation. In this review, we will summarize and discuss the specific role of TJ proteins in the control of epithelial and endothelial cell proliferation. In some cases, the TJ proteins act as a reservoir of critical cell cycle modulators, by binding and regulating their nuclear access, while in other cases, junctional proteins are located at cellular organelles, regulating transcription and proliferation. Collectively, these studies reveal that TJ proteins contribute to the control of cell proliferation and differentiation required for forming and maintaining a tissue barrier.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited