Keratinocytes in the oral mucosal epithelium, which is a non-keratinized stratified epithelium, are exposed to various stimuli from the oral cavity. JNK and p38 are stress-activated mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) that are phosphorylated by various stimuli and are involved in the assembly and disassembly of tight junctions (TJs) in keratinocytes. Therefore, we investigated the effects of stress-activated MAPKs on TJs in a mouse keratinocyte cell line during cell–cell junction formation in two-dimensional (2D) cultures or stratification to form non-keratinized epithelium in 3D cultures. In 2D cultures, calcium induced zipper-like staining for ZO-1 at 2 h and string-like staining for ZO-1 at 12 h, which indicated immature and mature cell–cell junctions, respectively. Anisomycin (AM), a JNK and p38 activator, inhibited formation of string-like staining for ZO-1, whereas inhibition of JNK, but not p38, after AM treatment restored string-like staining for ZO-1, although claudins (CLDNs) 4, 6, and 7 did not completely colocalize to ZO-1-positive sites. In 3D cultures, AM treatment for 2 weeks activated only p38, suppressed flattening of the superficial cells, removed CLDN7 from ZO-1-positive spots on the surface of 3D cultures, which represent TJs, and decreased transepithelial electrical resistance. Thus, short-term AM treatment inhibited maturation of cell–cell junctions by JNK, but not p38, activation. p38 activation by long-term AM treatment affected morphology of stratified structures and paracellular permeability, which was increased by CLDN7 removal from TJs. Various chronic stimuli that activate stress-activated MAPKs may weaken the keratinocyte barrier and be involved in TJ-related diseases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Medical Laboratory Technology
- Cell Biology