The epithelium of upper respiratory tissues such as nasal mucosa forms a continuous barrier to a wide variety of exogenous antigens. The epithelial barrier function is regulated in large part by the intercellular junctions, referred to as gap and tight junctions. However, changes of gap and tight junctions during differentiation of human nasal epithelial (HNE) cells are still unclear. In the present study, to investigate changes of gap and tight junctions during differentiation of HNE cells in vitro, we used primary human HNE cells cocultured with primary human nasal fibroblast (HNF) cells in a noncontact system. In HNE cells cocultured with HNF cells for 2 weeks, numerous elongated cilia-like structures were observed compared to those without HNF cells. In the coculture, downregulation of Cx26 and upregulation of Cx30.3 and Cx31 were observed together with extensive gap junctional intercellular communication. Furthermore, expression of the tight junction proteins claudin-1, claudin-4, occludin and ZO-2 was increased. These results suggest that switching in expression of connexins and induction of tight junction proteins may be closely associated with differentiation of HNE cells in vitro and that differentiation of HNE cells requires unknown soluble factors secreted from HNF cells.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 11, 2007
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