Genome-wide analysis of WT1-controlled gene expression in podocytes
ABSTRACT: We identified binding sites of the Wilms' tumor suppressor protein WT1 in the mouse podocyte genome in vivo by ChIP-seq. Furthermore, we provide a podocyte transcriptome derived from primary podocytes that were isolated by FACS on mouse glomeruli. In short, we show that WT1 activates a highly specific podocyte transcriptome by binding to putative podocyte-specific enhancers and TSS of target genes. Genes bound by WT1 in podocytes include the majority of genes mutated in hereditary podocytopathies as well as components of the slit diaphragm, actin cytoskeleton, extracellular matrix, and within endocytosis pathways. Furthermore, we infer a podocyte TF network from DNA-binding motifs enriched at WT1-bound loci that includes Tead, Lmx1b, Mafb, Tcf21, and Fox-class transcription factors. Examination of transcription factor binding sites for WT1 by ChIP-seq. Transcriptome analysis of podocytes by RNA-seq.
Project description:The transcription factor Wilms' tumor suppressor 1 (WT1) is key to podocyte development and viability; however, WT1 transcriptional networks in podocytes remain elusive. We provide a comprehensive analysis of the genome-wide WT1 transcriptional network in podocytes in vivo using chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIPseq) and RNA sequencing techniques. Our data show a specific role for WT1 in regulating the podocyte-specific transcriptome through binding to both promoters and enhancers of target genes. Furthermore, we inferred a podocyte transcription factor network consisting of WT1, LMX1B, TCF21, Fox-class and TEAD family transcription factors, and MAFB that uses tissue-specific enhancers to control podocyte gene expression. In addition to previously described WT1-dependent target genes, ChIPseq identified novel WT1-dependent signaling systems. These targets included components of the Hippo signaling system, underscoring the power of genome-wide transcriptional-network analyses. Together, our data elucidate a comprehensive gene regulatory network in podocytes suggesting that WT1 gene regulatory function and podocyte cell-type specification can best be understood in the context of transcription factor-regulatory element network interplay.
Project description:Mutations in Wilms' tumor 1 (WT1) cause a wide spectrum of renal manifestations, eventually leading to end-stage kidney failure. Insufficient understanding of WT1's molecular functions in kidney development has hampered efficient therapeutic applications for WT1-associated diseases. Recently, the generation and characterization of mouse models and application of multiple state-of-the-art approaches have significantly expanded our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of how WT1 mutations lead to kidney failure. Here, we discuss the WT1 binding consensus and illustrate the major roles of WT1 in different cell populations in kidney biology. WT1 controls metanephric mesenchyme (MM) self-renewal and proliferation mainly by regulating FGF and BMP-pSMAD signaling pathways as well as Sall1 and Pax2, encoding key transcription factors; WT1 drives MM differentiation and mesenchyme-epithelial transition by targeting Fgf8 and Wnt4; WT1 defines podocyte identity by activation of other podocyte-specific transcription factors, including Mafb, Lmx1b, FoxC2, and Tcf21. These factors potentially cooperate with WT1 regulating the expression of components and regulators of the cytoskeleton for establishing podocyte polarity, slit diaphragm structure, and focal adhesion to the glomerular basement membrane. Understanding of WT1's function in kidney biology including WT1-regulated pathways will give insights that will eventually help therapeutic applications.
Project description:LMX1B encodes a LIM-homeodomain transcription factor. Mutations in LMX1B cause nail-patella syndrome (NPS), an autosomal dominant disease with skeletal abnormalities, nail hypoplasia, and nephropathy. Expression of glomerular basement membrane (GBM) collagens is reduced in Lmx1b(-/-) mice, suggesting one basis for NPS nephropathy. Here, we show that Lmx1b(-/-) podocytes have reduced numbers of foot processes, are dysplastic, and lack typical slit diaphragms, indicating an arrest in development. Using antibodies to podocyte proteins important for podocyte function, we found that Lmx1b(-/-) podocytes express near-normal levels of nephrin, synaptopodin, ZO-1, alpha3 integrin, and GBM laminins. However, mRNA and protein levels for CD2AP and podocin were greatly reduced, suggesting a cooperative role for these molecules in foot process and slit diaphragm formation. We identified several LMX1B binding sites in the putative regulatory regions of both CD2AP and NPHS2 (podocin) and demonstrated that LMX1B binds to these sequences in vitro and can activate transcription through them in cotransfection assays. Thus, LMX1B regulates the expression of multiple podocyte genes critical for podocyte differentiation and function. Our results indicate that reduced levels of proteins associated with foot processes and the glomerular slit diaphragm likely contribute, along with reduced levels of GBM collagens, to the nephropathy associated with NPS.
Project description:Mutations of the LMX1B gene cause nail-patella syndrome, a rare autosomal-dominant disorder affecting the development of the limbs, eyes, brain, and kidneys. The characterization of conventional Lmx1b knockout mice has shown that LMX1B regulates the development of podocyte foot processes and slit diaphragms, but studies using podocyte-specific Lmx1b knockout mice have yielded conflicting results regarding the importance of LMX1B for maintaining podocyte structures. In order to address this question, we generated inducible podocyte-specific Lmx1b knockout mice. One week of Lmx1b inactivation in adult mice resulted in proteinuria with only minimal foot process effacement. Notably, expression levels of slit diaphragm and basement membrane proteins remained stable at this time point, and basement membrane charge properties also did not change, suggesting that alternative mechanisms mediate the development of proteinuria in these mice. Cell biological and biophysical experiments with primary podocytes isolated after 1 week of Lmx1b inactivation indicated dysregulation of actin cytoskeleton organization, and time-resolved DNA microarray analysis identified the genes encoding actin cytoskeleton-associated proteins, including Abra and Arl4c, as putative LMX1B targets. Chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments in conditionally immortalized human podocytes and gel shift assays showed that LMX1B recognizes AT-rich binding sites (FLAT elements) in the promoter regions of ABRA and ARL4C, and knockdown experiments in zebrafish support a model in which LMX1B and ABRA act in a common pathway during pronephros development. Our report establishes the importance of LMX1B in fully differentiated podocytes and argues that LMX1B is essential for the maintenance of an appropriately structured actin cytoskeleton in podocytes.
Project description:Podocytes are highly specialized cells in the vertebrate kidney. They participate in the formation of the size-exclusion barrier of the glomerulus/glomus and recruit mesangial and endothelial cells to form a mature glomerulus. At least six transcription factors (wt1, foxc2, hey1, tcf21, lmx1b and mafb) are known to be involved in podocyte specification, but how they interact to drive the differentiation program is unknown. The Xenopus pronephros was used as a paradigm to address this question. All six podocyte transcription factors were systematically eliminated by antisense morpholino oligomers. Changes in the expression of the podocyte transcription factors and of four selected markers of terminal differentiation (nphs1, kirrel, ptpru and nphs2) were analyzed by in situ hybridization. The data were assembled into a transcriptional regulatory network for podocyte development. Although eliminating the six transcription factors individually interfered with aspects of podocyte development, no single gene regulated the entire differentiation program. Only the combined knockdown of wt1 and foxc2 resulted in a loss of all podocyte marker gene expression. Gain-of-function studies showed that wt1 and foxc2 were sufficient to increase podocyte gene expression within the glomus proper. However, the combination of wt1, foxc2 and Notch signaling was required for ectopic expression in ventral marginal zone explants. Together, this approach demonstrates how complex interactions are required for the correct spatiotemporal execution of the podocyte gene expression program.
Project description:Podocin is a key protein of the kidney podocyte slit diaphragm protein complex, an important part of the glomerular filtration barrier. Mutations in the human podocin gene NPHS2 cause familial or sporadic forms of renal disease owing to the disruption of filtration barrier integrity. The exclusive expression of NPHS2 in podocytes reflects its unique function and raises interesting questions about its transcriptional regulation. Here, we further define a 2.5-kb zebrafish nphs2 promoter fragment previously described and identify a 49-bp podocyte-specific transcriptional enhancer using Tol2-mediated G0 transgenesis in zebrafish. Within this enhancer, we identified a cis-acting element composed of two adjacent DNA-binding sites (FLAT-E and forkhead) bound by transcription factors Lmx1b and FoxC. In zebrafish, double knockdown of Lmx1b and FoxC orthologs using morpholino doses that caused no or minimal phenotypic changes upon individual knockdown completely disrupted podocyte development in 40% of injected embryos. Co-overexpression of the two genes potently induced endogenous nphs2 expression in zebrafish podocytes. We found that the NPHS2 promoter also contains a cis-acting Lmx1b-FoxC motif that binds LMX1B and FoxC2. Furthermore, a genome-wide search identified several genes that carry the Lmx1b-FoxC motif in their promoter regions. Among these candidates, motif-driven podocyte enhancer activity of CCNC and MEIS2 was functionally analyzed in vivo. Our results show that podocyte expression of some genes is combinatorially regulated by two transcription factors interacting synergistically with a common enhancer. This finding provides insights into transcriptional mechanisms required for normal and pathologic podocyte functions.
Project description:Mutations in the LIM homeobox transcription factor 1-beta (LMX1B) are a cause of nail patellar syndrome, a condition characterized by skeletal changes, glaucoma and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Recently, a missense mutation (R246Q) in LMX1B was reported as a cause of glomerular pathologies without extra-renal manifestations, otherwise known as nail patella-like renal disease (NPLRD). We have identified two additional NPLRD families with the R246Q mutation, though the mechanisms by which LMX1BR246Q causes a renal-specific phenotype is unknown. In this study, using human podocyte cell lines overexpressing either myc-LMX1BWT or myc-LMX1BR246Q, we observed dominant negative and haploinsufficiency effects of the mutation on the expression of podocyte genes such as NPHS1, GLEPP1, and WT1. Specifically, we observed a novel LMX1BR246Q-mediated downregulation of WT1(-KTS) isoforms in podocytes. In conclusion, we have shown that the renal-specific phenotype associated with the LMX1BR246Q mutation may be due to a dominant negative effect on WT1(-KTS) isoforms that may cause a disruption of the WT1 (-KTS):(+KTS) isoform ratio and a decrease in the expression of podocyte genes. Full delineation of the LMX1B gene regulon is needed to define its role in maintenance of glomerular filtration barrier integrity.
Project description:The glomerular podocyte is a highly specialized and polarized kidney cell type that contains major processes and foot processes that extend from the cell body. Foot processes from adjacent podocytes form interdigitations with those of adjacent cells, thereby creating an essential intercellular junctional domain of the renal filtration barrier known as the slit diaphragm. Interesting parallels have been drawn between the slit diaphragm and other sites of cell-cell contact by polarized cells. Notably mutations in several genes encoding proteins localized to the foot processes can lead to proteinuria and kidney failure. Mutations in the Wilm's tumor gene (WT1) can also lead to kidney disease and one isoform of WT1, WT1(+KTS), has been proposed to regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. We originally sought to identify mRNAs associated with WT1(+KTS) through an RNA immunoprecipitation and microarray approach, hypothesizing that the proteins encoded by these mRNAs might be important for podocyte morphology and function. We identified a subset of mRNAs that were remarkably enriched for transcripts encoding actin-binding proteins and other cytoskeletal proteins including several that are localized at or near the slit diaphragm. Interestingly, these mRNAs included those of alpha-actinin-4 and non-muscle myosin IIA that are mutated in genetic forms of kidney disease. However, isolation of the mRNAs occurred independently of the expression of WT1, suggesting that the identified mRNAs were serendipitously co-purified on the basis of co-association in a common subcellular fraction. Mass spectroscopy revealed that other components of the actin cytoskeleton co-purified with these mRNAs, namely actin, tubulin, and elongation factor 1alpha. We propose that these mRNAs encode a number of proteins that comprise a highly specialized protein interactome underlying the slit diaphragm. Collectively, these gene products and their interactions may prove to be important for the structural integrity of the actin cytoskeleton in podocytes as well as other polarized cell types.
Project description:Podocytes are terminally differentiated cells with an elaborate cytoskeleton and are critical components of the glomerular barrier. We identified a bHLH transcription factor, Tcf21, that is highly expressed in developing and mature podocytes. Because conventional Tcf21 knockout mice die in the perinatal period with major cardiopulmonary defects, we generated a conditional Tcf21 knockout mouse to explore the role of this transcription factor in podocytes in vivo. Tcf21 was deleted from podocytes and podocyte progenitors using podocin-cre (podTcf21) and wnt4-cre (wnt4creTcf21) driver strains, respectively. Loss of Tcf21 from capillary-loop stage podocytes (podTcf21) results in simplified glomeruli with a decreased number of endothelial and mesangial cells. By 5 weeks of age, 40% of podTcf21 mice develop massive proteinuria and lesions similar to FSGS. Notably, the remaining 60% of mice do not develop proteinuria even when aged to 8 months. By contrast, earlier deletion of Tcf21 from podocyte precursors (wnt4creTcf21) results in a profound developmental arrest of podocyte differentiation and renal failure in 100% of mice during the perinatal period. Taken together, our results demonstrate a critical role for Tcf21 in the differentiation and maintenance of podocytes. Identification of direct targets of this transcription factor may provide new therapeutic avenues for proteinuric renal disease, including FSGS.
Project description:Nail-patella syndrome is an autosomal-dominant hereditary disease named for dysplastic fingernails and toenails and hypoplastic or absent kneecaps evident in patients with the syndrome. Prognosis is determined by the nephropathy that develops in many such patients. Besides podocyte foot-process effacement, pathognomonic changes in the kidney comprise electron-lucent areas and fibrillar inclusions in the glomerular basement membrane. These characteristic symptoms are caused by mutations in the gene encoding the transcription factor LMX1B, a member of the LIM-homeodomain gene family. Comparable with the human syndrome, homozygous Lmx1b knockout mice lack patellae and suffer from severe podocyte damage. In contrast, however, podocin and the alpha3 and alpha4 chains of collagen IV are absent in the glomeruli of Lmx1b knockout mice. Further studies with podocyte-specific Lmx1b knockout mice have confirmed the importance of LMX1B in podocytes, as these mice apparently develop foot processes initially but lose them later on. We therefore conclude that LMX1B is essential for the development of metanephric precursor cells into podocytes and possibly also for maintaining the differentiation status of podocytes. LMX1B can serve as a model system to elucidate a genetic program in podocytes.