Tight junctions (TJs) are essential for normal function of epithelia, restricting paracellular diffusion and contributing to the maintenance of cell surface polarity. Superficial cells of the urothelium develop TJs, the basis for the paracellular permeability barrier of the bladder against diffusion of urinary solutes. Focusing on the superficial cell layer of stratified cell cultures of an immortalized human ureteral cell line, TEU-2 cells, we have examined the presence of TJ and TJ-associated proteins. TEU-2 cells were treated with calcium chloride and fetal bovine serum culture conditions used to induce stratification that resembles the normal transitional epithelial phenotype. Cultures were examined for TJ and TJ-associated proteins by confocal immunofluorescence microscopy and evaluated for TJ mRNA by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). TEU-2 cultures exhibited immunoreactivity at intercellular margins for claudins 1, 4, 5, 7, 14, and 16 whereas claudins 2, 8, and 12 were intracellular. RT-PCR corroborated the presence of these claudins at the mRNA level. The TJ-associated proteins occludin, JAM-1, and zonula occludens (ZO-1, ZO-2, and ZO-3) were localized at cell margins. We have found that numerous TJs and TJ-associated proteins are expressed in stratified TEU-2 cultures. Further, we propose TEU-2s provide a useful ureteral model for future studies on the involvement of TJs proteins in the normal and pathological physiology of the human urinary system.
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Vol. 44 • No. 7