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Ungewiss, Hanna; Vielmuth, Franziska; Suzuki, Shintaro T.; Maiser, Andreas; Harz, Hartmann; Leonhardt, Heinrich; Kugelmann, Daniela; Schlegel, Nicolas and Waschke, Jens (2017): Desmoglein 2 regulates the intestinal epithelial barrier via p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, 6329 [PDF, 4MB]


Intestinal epithelial barrier properties are maintained by a junctional complex consisting of tight junctions (TJ), adherens junctions (AJ) and desmosomes. Desmoglein 2 (Dsg2), an adhesion molecule of desmosomes and the only Dsg isoform expressed in enterocytes, is required for epithelial barrier properties and may contribute to barrier defects in Crohn's disease. Here, we identified extradesmosomal Dsg2 on the surface of polarized enterocytes by Triton extraction, confocal microscopy, SIM and STED. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) revealed Dsg2-specific binding events along the cell border on the surface of enterocytes with a mean unbinding force of around 30pN. Binding events were blocked by an inhibitory antibody targeting Dsg2 which under same conditions activated p38MAPK but did not reduce cell cohesion. In enterocytes deficient for Dsg2, p38MAPK activity was reduced and both barrier integrity and reformation were impaired. Dsc2 rescue did not restore p38MAPK activity indicating that Dsg2 is required. Accordingly, direct activation of p38MAPK in Dsg2-deficient cells enhanced barrier reformation demonstrating that Dsg2-mediated activation of p38MAPK is crucial for barrier function. Collectively, our data show that Dsg2, beside its adhesion function, regulates intestinal barrier function via p38MAPK signalling. This is in contrast to keratinocytes and points towards tissue-specific signalling functions of desmosomal cadherins.

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