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Tight junctions (TJs) are essential for establishing a selectively permeable barrier to diffusion through the paracellular space between neighboring cells. TJs are composed of at least three types of transmembrane protein -occludin, claudin and junctional adhesion molecules (JAMs)- and a cytoplasmic 'plaque' consisting of many different proteins that form large complexes. These are proposed to be involved in junction assembly, barrier regulation, cell polarity, gene transcription, and other pathways.