The septate junction (SJ) provides an occluding function for epithelial tissues in invertebrate organisms. This ability to seal the paracellular route between cells allows internal tissues to create unique compartments for organ function and endows the epidermis with a barrier function to restrict the passage of pathogens. Over the past twenty-five years, numerous investigators have identified more than 30 proteins that are required for the formation or maintenance of the SJs in Drosophila melanogaster, and have determined many of the steps involved in the biogenesis of the junction. Along the way, it has become clear that SJ proteins are also required for a number of developmental events that occur throughout the life of the organism. Many of these developmental events occur prior to the formation of the occluding junction, suggesting that SJ proteins possess non-occluding functions. In this review, we will describe the composition of SJs, taking note of which proteins are core components of the junction versus resident or accessory proteins, and the steps involved in the biogenesis of the junction. We will then elaborate on the functions that core SJ proteins likely play outside of their role in forming the occluding junction and describe studies that provide some cell biological perspectives that are beginning to provide mechanistic understanding of how these proteins function in developmental contexts.
Rice, C.; De, O.; Alhadyian, H.; Hall, S.; Ward, R.E. Expanding the Junction: New Insights into Non-Occluding Roles for Septate Junction Proteins during Development. J. Dev. Biol. 2021, 9, 11. https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb9010011