Characteristics of claudin expression in follicle-associated epithelium of Peyer's patches: Preferential localization of claudin-4 at the apex of the dome region
Gut-associated lymphoreticular tissue (GALT), such as Peyer's patches (PP) and cecal patches, are important inductive sites for mucosal immune responses. As such, the GALT may have an epithelial barrier different from that of villous epithelium. In this study, we investigated the immunohistochemical distribution of the claudin family and occludin in the follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) of Peyer's patches and cecal patches of murine intestine. Unique profiles of claudin-2, -3, -4 and occludin expression were noted in the tight junctions of the FAE: claudin-4 was preferentially expressed in the apex region; claudin-2 was only weakly expressed on the crypt side of the FAE compared to stronger expression on the crypt side of villous epithelial cells; claudin-3 and occludin were found throughout the dome. These unique expression patterns were present also in cecal patch FAE. We also found that claudin-4 expression in the FAE of Peyer's patches and cecal patches corresponded with the presence of TUNEL-positive apoptotic cells, and Peyer's patch-deficient mice had expression patterns of claudin and occludin in villous epithelia similar to those in wild-type mice. We conclude that claudin-4 expression is preferentially associated with the dome region of FAE, the mucosal inductive site of the murine intestine. In that location and it might correlate with the cell life cycle, help maintain the apex configuration of the dome, or be a factor favoring the uptake of antigens by the FAE.
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