PerspectiveCell Biology

Paracellular Channels!

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Science  02 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5424, pp. 62
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5424.62

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It is well established that resorption of valuable ions takes place in the kidney tubules. Although the channels that transport ions across the tubule epithelial cells are well characterized, the channels transporting ions between epithelial cells (paracellular transport) are less well understood. In his Perspective, Daniel Goodenough describes a new protein, paracellin-1, that is one of the components of tight junctions between kidney tubule epithelial cells. Through studies in patients with a rare wasting disease caused by an inability to resorb magnesium ions from the kidney tubule, paracellin-1 was found to regulate paracellular transport of magnesium ions. This is the first tight junction protein found to be involved in paracellular ion transport.