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The probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) is widely used to maintain remission in ulcerative colitis. This is thought to be mediated by various immunomodulatory and barrier-stabilizing effects in the intestine. In this study, the mechanisms of barrier modulation by EcN were studied in the human epithelial HT-29/B6 cell culture model.EcN supernatant increased transepithelial resistance (TER) and reduced permeability to mannitol because of sealing of the paracellular passage pathway as revealed by two-path impedance spectroscopy. This increase in TER was attributed to the TcpC protein of EcN. TcpC induced protein kinase C-ζ (PKCζ) and extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation, which in turn resulted in upregulation of the barrier-forming tight junction protein claudin-14. By specific silencing of protein expression by small interfering RNA (siRNA), the sealing function of claudin-14 was confirmed. In conclusion, the TcpC protein of EcN affects innate immunity by improving intestinal barrier function through upregulation of claudin-14 via PKCζ and ERK1/2 signaling.Mucosal Immunology advance online publication, 31 July 2013; doi:10.1038/mi.2013.55.