Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) regulates claudin dynamics and tight junctions

Chuan Jin Wu, Poonam Mannan, Michael Lu, Mark C. Udey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations


Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) (CD326) is a surface glycoprotein expressed by invasive carcinomas and some epithelia. Herein, we report that EpCAM regulates the composition and function of tight junctions (TJ). EpCAM accumulated on the lateral interfaces of human colon carcinoma and normal intestinal epithelial cells but did not co-localize with TJ. Knockdown of EpCAM in T84 and Caco-2 cells using shRNAs led to changes in morphology and adhesiveness. TJ formed readily after EpCAM knockdown; the acquisition of trans-epithelial electroresistance was enhanced, and TJ showed increased resistance to disruption by calcium chelation. Preparative immunoprecipitation demonstrated that EpCAM bound tightly to claudin-7. Co-immunoprecipitation documented associations of EpCAM with claudin-7 and claudin-1 but not claudin-2 or claudin-4. Claudin-1 associated with claudin-7 in co-transfection experiments, and claudin-7 was required for association of claudin-1 with EpCAM. EpCAM knockdown resulted in decreases in claudin-7 and claudin-1 proteins that were reversed with lysosome inhibitors. Immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that claudin-7 and claudin-1 continually trafficked into lysosomes. Although EpCAM knockdown decreased claudin-1 and claudin-7 protein levels overall, accumulations of claudin-1 and claudin-7 in TJ increased. Physical interactions between EpCAM and claudins were required for claudin stabilization. These findings suggest that EpCAM modulates adhesion and TJ function by regulating intracellular localization and degradation of selected claudins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12253-12268
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 26 2013
Externally publishedYes

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