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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 278948, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/278948
Review Article

Tight Junctions in Salivary Epithelium

Department of Oral Biology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14214-30932, USA

Received 14 August 2009; Revised 12 November 2009; Accepted 27 November 2009

Academic Editor: Karl Chai

Copyright © 2010 Olga J. Baker. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Epithelial cell tight junctions (TJs) consist of a narrow belt-like structure in the apical region of the lateral plasma membrane that circumferentially binds each cell to its neighbor. TJs are found in tissues that are involved in polarized secretions, absorption functions, and maintaining barriers between blood and interstitial fluids. The morphology, permeability, and ion selectivity of TJ vary among different types of tissues and species. TJs are very dynamic structures that assemble, grow, reorganize, and disassemble during physiological or pathological events. Several studies have indicated the active role of TJ in intestinal, renal, and airway epithelial function; however, the functional significance of TJ in salivary gland epithelium is poorly understood. Interactions between different combinations of the TJ family (each with their own unique regulatory proteins) define tissue specificity and functions during physiopathological processes; however, these interaction patterns have not been studied in salivary glands. The purpose of this review is to analyze some of the current data regarding the regulatory components of the TJ that could potentially affect cellular functions of the salivary epithelium.