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The integrity and permeability of epithelial and endothelial barriers depend on the formation of tight junctions, adherens junctions, and a junction-associated cytoskeleton. The establishment of this junction-cytoskeletal module relies on the correct folding and oligomerization of its protein components. Molecular chaperones are known regulators of protein folding and complex formation in different cellular compartments. Mammalian cells possess an elaborate chaperone network consisting of several hundred chaperones and co-chaperones. Only a small part of this network has been linked, however, to the regulation of intercellular adhesions, and the systematic analysis of chaperone functions at epithelial and endothelial barriers is lacking. This review describes the functions and mechanisms of the chaperone-assisted regulation of intercellular junctions. The major focus of this review is on heat shock protein chaperones, their co-chaperones, and chaperonins since these molecules are the focus of the majority of the articles published on the chaperone-mediated control of tissue barriers. This review discusses the roles of chaperones in the regulation of the steady-state integrity of epithelial and vascular barriers as well as the disruption of these barriers by pathogenic factors and extracellular stressors. Since cytoskeletal coupling is essential for junctional integrity and remodeling, chaperone-assisted assembly of the actomyosin cytoskeleton is also discussed.


Susana Lechuga, Armando Marino-Melendez, Nayden G Naydenov, Atif Zafar, Manuel B Braga-Neto, Andrei I Ivanov. Regulation of Epithelial and Endothelial Barriers by Molecular Chaperones. Cells. 2024 Feb 21;13(5)

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PMID: 38474334

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