The tight junction (TJ) has a key role in regulating paracellular permeability to water and solutes in the kidney. However, the functional role of the TJ in the glomerular podocyte is unclear. In diabetic nephropathy, the gene expression of claudins, in particular claudin-1, is markedly upregulated in the podocyte, accompanied by a tighter filtration slit and the appearance of TJ-like structures between the foot processes.However, there is no definitive evidence to show slit diaphragm (SD) to TJ transition in vivo. Here, we report the generation of a claudin-1 transgenic mouse model with doxycycline-inducible transgene expression specifically in the glomerular podocyte. We found that induction of claudin-1 gene expression in mature podocytes caused profound proteinuria, andwith deep-etching freeze-fracture electron microscopy, we resolved the ultrastructural change in the claudin-1-induced SD-TJ transition. Notably, immunolabeling of kidney proteins revealed that claudin-1 induction destabilized the SD protein complex in podocytes, with significantly reduced expression and altered localization of nephrin and podocin proteins. Mechanistically, claudin-1 interacted with both nephrin and podocin through cis- andtrans-associations in cultured cells. Furthermore, the rat puromycin aminonucleoside nephrosis model, previously suspected of undergoing SD-TJ transition, exhibited upregulated expression levels of claudin-1mRNAand protein in podocytes. Together, our data attest to the novel concept that claudins and the TJ have essential roles in podocyte pathophysiology and that claudin interactionswith SDcomponents may facilitate SD-TJ transition that appears to be common to many nephrotic conditions.