Kruppel-like factor 5 is essential for the maintenance of barrier function in mouse colon

Yang Liu, Martyn Chidgey, Vincent Yang, Agnieszka Bialkowska

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5) is a member of the zinc finger family of transcription factors that regulates homeostasis of the intestinal epithelium. Previous studies suggested an indispensable role of KLF5 in maintaining intestinal barrier function. In the current study, we investigated the mechanisms by which KLF5 regulates colonic barrier function in vivo and in vitro. We used an inducible and a constitutive intestine-specific Klf5 knockout mouse models (Villin-CreERT2;Klf5fl/fl designated as Klf5ΔIND and Villin-Cre;Klf5fl/fl as Klf5ΔIS) and studied an inducible KLF5 knockdown in Caco-2 BBe cells using a lentiviral Tet-on system (Caco-2 BBe KLF5ΔIND). Specific knockout of Klf5 in colonic tissues, either inducible or constitutive, resulted in increased intestinal permeability. The phenotype was accompanied by a significant reduction in Dsg2, which encodes desmoglein-2, a desmosomal cadherin, at both mRNA and protein levels. Transmission electron microscopy showed alterations of desmosomal morphology in both KLF5 knockdown Caco-2 BBe cells and Klf5 knockout mouse colonic tissues. Inducible knockdown of KLF5 in Caco-2BBe cells grown on Transwell plates led to impaired barrier function as evidenced by decreased transepithelial electrical resistance and increased paracellular permeability to fluorescein isothiocyanate-4 kDa dextran. Furthermore, DSG2 was significantly decreased in KLF5 knockdown cells, and DSG2 overexpression partially rescued the impaired barrier function caused by KLF5 knockdown. Electron microscopy studies demonstrated altered desmosomal morphology after KLF5 knockdown. In combination with chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis and promoter study, our data show that KLF5 regulates intestinal barrier function by mediating the transcription of DSG2, a gene encoding a major component of desmosome structures. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The study is original research on the direct function of a Krüppel-like factor on intestinal barrier function, which is commonly exerted by cell junctions, including tight junctions, adherens junctions, and desmosomes. Numerous previous studies were focused on tight junctions and adherens junctions. However, this study provided a new perspective on how the intestinal barrier function is regulated by KLF5 through DSG2, a component of desmosome complexes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G478-G491
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology
Issue number5
Early online date1 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2017


  • desmoglein-2
  • desmosomes


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