Tight junctions regulate paracellular permeability, create the luminal fluid microenvironment of blood vessels and the digestive tract, and also form the protective barrier in the stratified epithelium including the epidermis. Claudins are the integral membrane proteins at tight junctions and form a multigene family composed of at least 24 members, but knowledge of the subcellular localization of each claudin is still fragmentary. We performed RT-PCR for fifteen claudin species to examine the mRNA expression in various mouse tissues, and focused on investigating the subcellular localization of claudin-10 and -15 by immunofluorescence microscopy in various rat tissues. Neither claudin-10 nor -15 was detected in vascular endothelial cells in most tissues, and these claudins were restricted to the vasa recta in the kidney medulla. Both claudins were also detected at apical tight junctions in the epithelium of the jejunum with no intensity gradients along the crypt-to-villus axis. However, both claudins were expressed only in the basal half of the crypt epithelium in the colon, showing obvious gradients along crypt-to-surface axis. Moreover, claudin-10 showed the ectopic subcellular localization where tight junction strands do not exist. Claudin-10 was detected along the entire lateral membranes of acinar cells in addition to the apical tight junctions in exocrine glands, and in the cytoplasm of basal cells in the stratified epithelium including the dorsal skin and cutaneous stomach. These heterogeneous distributions of claudin-10 and -15 in tissues may be related to the differences in paracellular permeability among tissues.
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