Oligodendrocyte-specific protein (OSP)/claudin-11 is a recently identified transmembrane protein found in CNS myelin and testis with unknown function. Herein we demonstrate that Osp null mice exhibit both neurological and reproductive deficits: CNS nerve conduction is slowed, hindlimb weakness is conspicuous, and males are sterile. Freeze fracture reveals that tight junction intramembranous strands are absent in CNS myelin and between Sertoli cells of mutant mice. Our results demonstrate that OSP is the mediator of parallel-array tight junction strands and distinguishes this protein from other intrinsic membrane proteins in tight junctions. These novel results provide direct evidence of the pivotal role of the claudin family in generating the paracellular physical barrier of tight junctions necessary for spermatogenesis and normal CNS function.
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