Claudins are integral proteins expressed at the tight junctions of epithelial and endothelial cells. In the mammalian kidney, every tubular segment express a specific set of claudins that give to that segment unique properties regarding permeability and selectivity of the paracellular pathway. So far, 3 claudins (10b, 16 and 19) have been causally traced to rare human syndromes: variants of CLDN10b
cause HELIX syndrome and variants of CLDN16
cause familial hypomagnesemia with hypercalciuria and nephrocalcinosis. The review summarizes our current knowledge on the physiology of mammalian tight junctions and paracellular ion transport, as well as on the role of the 3 above-mentioned claudins in health and disease. Claudin 14, although not having been causally linked to any rare renal disease, is also considered, because available evidence suggests that it may interact with claudin 16. Some single-nucleotide polymorphisms of CLDN14
are associated with urinary calcium excretion and/or kidney stones. For each claudin considered, the pattern of expression, the function and the human syndrome caused by pathogenic variants are described.
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