Tight junction (TJ)-like structures have been reported in Schwann cells, but their molecular composition and physiological function remain elusive. We found that claudin-19, a novel member of the claudin family (TJ adhesion molecules in epithelia), constituted these structures. Claudin-19-deficient mice were generated, and they exhibited behavioral abnormalities that could be attributed to peripheral nervous system deficits. Electrophysiological analyses showed that the claudin-19 deficiency affected the nerve conduction of peripheral myelinated fibers. Interestingly, the overall morphology of Schwann cells lacking claudin-19 expression appeared to be normal not only in the internodal region but also at the node of Ranvier, except that TJs completely disappeared, at least from the outer/inner mesaxons. These findings have indicated that, similar to epithelial cells, Schwann cells also bear claudin-based TJs, and they have also suggested that these TJs are not involved in the polarized morphogenesis but are involved in the electrophysiological "sealing" function of Schwann cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology