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Anthony R. Calabro

St. John’s University, New York

Mentor: Frank A. Barile

"Effects of Trace Metals on Tight Junction Proteins in Cultured Caco-2 and Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells."

One function of epithelial cells in multicellular organisms is their ability to regulate the transport of molecules across the apical and basolateral surfaces of cellular environments. Proteins that form tight junctions (TJs) create connections between adjacent cells that alter the passage of ions and other molecules. Three families of proteins constitute TJs; claudins, occludins and junctional adhesion molecules (JAM), all of which are associated with actins – that is, the cell anchoring proteins. Consequently, this in vitro study has two objectives: 1. to develop a cell culture model, using immortal human colon cells and mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells, to determine acute cytotoxicity of trace metals in vitro, and; 2. to characterize the effects of the trace metals on the expression of TJ proteins in the cell culture models.