Claudin-12 is not required for blood-brain barrier tight junction function

Mariana Castro Dias, Caroline Coisne, Pascale Baden, Gaby Enzmann, Lillian Garrett, Lore Becker, Sabine M. Hölter, Antonio Aguilar-Pimentel, Thure Adler, Dirk H. Busch, Nadine Spielmann, Kristin Moreth, Wolfgang Hans, Oana Amarie, Jochen Graw, Jan Rozman, Ildiko Radc, Frauke Neff, Julia Calzada-Wack, Birgit RathkolbEckhard Wolf, Thomas Klopstock, Wolfgang Wurst, Johannes Beckers, Manuela Östereicher, Gregor Miller, Holger Maier, Claudia Stoeger, Stefanie Leuchtenberger, Valérie Gailus-Durner, Helmut Fuchs, Martin Hrabě De Angelis, Urban Deutsch, Britta Engelhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: The blood-brain barrier (BBB) ensures central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis by strictly controlling the passage of molecules and solutes from the bloodstream into the CNS. Complex and continuous tight junctions (TJs) between brain endothelial cells block uncontrolled paracellular diffusion of molecules across the BBB, with claudin-5 being its dominant TJs protein. However, claudin-5 deficient mice still display ultrastructurally normal TJs, suggesting the contribution of other claudins or tight-junction associated proteins in establishing BBB junctional complexes. Expression of claudin-12 at the BBB has been reported, however the exact function and subcellular localization of this atypical claudin remains unknown. Methods: We created claudin-12-lacZ-knock-in C57BL/6J mice to explore expression of claudin-12 and its role in establishing BBB TJs function during health and neuroinflammation. We furthermore performed a broad standardized phenotypic check-up of the mouse mutant. Results: Making use of the lacZ reporter allele, we found claudin-12 to be broadly expressed in numerous organs. In the CNS, expression of claudin-12 was detected in many cell types with very low expression in brain endothelium. Claudin-12lacZ/lacZ C57BL/6J mice lacking claudin-12 expression displayed an intact BBB and did not show any signs of BBB dysfunction or aggravated neuroinflammation in an animal model for multiple sclerosis. Determining the precise localization of claudin-12 at the BBB was prohibited by the fact that available anti-claudin-12 antibodies showed comparable detection and staining patterns in tissues from wild-type and claudin-12lacZ/lacZ C57BL/6J mice. Conclusions: Our present study thus shows that claudin-12 is not essential in establishing or maintaining BBB TJs integrity. Claudin-12 is rather expressed in cells that typically lack TJs suggesting that claudin-12 plays a role other than forming classical TJs. At the same time, in depth phenotypic screening of clinically relevant organ functions of claudin-12lacZ/lacZ C57BL/6J mice suggested the involvement of claudin-12 in some neurological but, more prominently, in cardiovascular functions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
StatePublished - 12 Sep 2019


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Claudin-12
  • Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
  • Tight junctions


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