ABSTRACT: Type IV collagen is a predominant component of basement membranes, and glomeruli of a kidney filter approximately 70-90 liters of plasma every day through a specialized glomerular basement membrane (GBM). In Alport syndrome, a progressive disease primarily affecting kidneys, mutations in GBM-associated type IV collagen genes (COL4A3, COL4A4, or COL4A5) lead to basement membrane structural defects, proteinuria, renal failure, and an absence of all three GBM collagen triple helical chains because of obligatory posttranslational assembly requirements. Here, we demonstrate that transplantation of wild-type bone marrow (BM) into irradiated COL4A3(-/-) mice results in a possible recruitment of BM-derived progenitor cells as epithelial cells (podocytes) and mesangial cells within the damaged glomerulus, leading to a partial restoration of expression of the type IV collagen alpha3 chain with concomitant emergence of alpha4 and alpha5 chain expression, improved glomerular architecture associated with a significant reduction in proteinuria, and improvement in overall kidney histology compared with untreated COL4A3(-/-) mice or irradiated COL4A3(-/-) mice with BM from adult COL4A3(-/-) mice. The alpha3(IV) collagen produced by BM-derived podocytes integrates into the GBM and associates with other alpha-chains to form type IV collagen triple helical networks. This study demonstrates that BM-derived stem cells can offer a viable strategy for repairing basement membrane defects and conferring therapeutic benefit for patients with Alport syndrome.
Project description:Collagen IV is a major structural component of basement membranes. In the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) of the kidney, the alpha3, alpha4, and alpha5(IV) collagen chains form a distinct network that is essential for the long-term stability of the glomerular filtration barrier, and is absent in most patients affected with Alport syndrome, a progressive inherited nephropathy associated with mutation in COL4A3, COL4A4, or COL4A5 genes. To investigate, in vivo, the regulation of the expression, assembly, and function of the alpha3alpha4alpha5(IV) protomer, we have generated a yeast artificial chromosome transgenic line of mice carrying the human COL4A3-COL4A4 locus. Transgenic mice expressed the human alpha3 and alpha4(IV) chains in a tissue-specific manner. In the kidney, when expressed onto a Col4a3(-/-) background, the human alpha3(IV) chain restored the expression of and co-assembled with the mouse alpha4 and alpha5(IV) chains specifically at sites where the human alpha3(IV) was expressed, demonstrating that the expression of all three chains is required for network assembly. The co-assembly of the human and mouse chains into a hybrid network in the GBM restores a functional GBM and rescues the Alport phenotype, providing further evidence that defective assembly of the alpha3-alpha4-alpha5(IV) protomer, caused by mutations in any of the three chains, is the pathogenic mechanism responsible for the disease. This line of mice, humanized for the alpha3(IV) collagen chain, will also provide a valuable model for studying the pathogenesis of Goodpasture syndrome, an autoimmune disease caused by antibodies against this chain.
Project description:Alport disease in humans, which usually results in proteinuria and kidney failure, is caused by mutations to the COL4A3, COL4A4, or COL4A5 genes, and absence of collagen ?3?4?5(IV) networks found in mature kidney glomerular basement membrane (GBM). The Alport mouse harbors a deletion of the Col4a3 gene, which also results in the lack of GBM collagen ?3?4?5(IV). This animal model shares many features with human Alport patients, including the retention of collagen ?1?2?1(IV) in GBMs, effacement of podocyte foot processes, gradual loss of glomerular barrier properties, and progression to renal failure. To learn more about the pathogenesis of Alport disease, we undertook a discovery proteomics approach to identify proteins that were differentially expressed in glomeruli purified from Alport and wild-type mouse kidneys. Pairs of cy3- and cy5-labeled extracts from 5-week old Alport and wild-type glomeruli, respectively, underwent 2-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis. Differentially expressed proteins were digested with trypsin and prepared for mass spectrometry, peptide ion mapping/fingerprinting, and protein identification through database searching. The intermediate filament protein, vimentin, was upregulated ?2.5 fold in Alport glomeruli compared to wild-type. Upregulation was confirmed by quantitative real time RT-PCR of isolated Alport glomeruli (5.4 fold over wild-type), and quantitative confocal immunofluorescence microscopy localized over-expressed vimentin specifically to Alport podocytes. We next hypothesized that increases in vimentin abundance might affect the basement membrane protein receptors, integrins, and screened Alport and wild-type glomeruli for expression of integrins likely to be the main receptors for GBM type IV collagen and laminin. Quantitative immunofluorescence showed an increase in integrin ?1 expression in Alport mesangial cells and an increase in integrin ?3 in Alport podocytes. We conclude that overexpression of mesangial integrin ?1 and podocyte vimentin and integrin ?3 may be important features of glomerular Alport disease, possibly affecting cell-signaling, cell shape and cellular adhesion to the GBM.
Project description:AIM:Type IV collagen nephropathies include Alport Syndrome and thin basement membrane nephropathy (TBMN), which are caused by mutations in COL4A3/A4/A5 genes. Recently, reports of patients with heterozygous mutations in COL4A3/A4 have been increasing. The clinical course of these patients has a wide variety, and they are diagnosed as TBMN, autosomal dominant Alport syndrome (ADAS), or familial focal segmental glomerular sclerosis. However, diagnosis, frequency and clinicopathological manifestation of them remains unclear. We tested COL4A3/A4/A5 genes in patients with hereditary nephritis that was difficult to diagnose clinicopathologically, and investigated who should undergo such testing. METHODS:We performed immunostaining for α5 chain of type IV collagen [α5 (IV)] in 27 patients from 21 families who fitted the following criteria: (i) haematuria and proteinuria (± renal dysfunction); (ii) family history of haematuria, proteinuria, and/or renal dysfunction (autosomal dominant inheritance); (iii) no specific glomerulonephritis; and (iv) thinning, splitting, or lamellation of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) on electron microscopy. Then we performed genetic testing in 19 patients from 16 families who showed normal α5 (IV) patterns. We conducted a retrospective analysis of their clinicopathological findings. RESULTS:Among 16 families, 69% were detected heterozygous mutations in COL4A3/A4, suggesting the diagnosis of TBMN/ADAS. Twenty-one percent of patients developed end stage renal disease. All patients showed thinning of GBM, which was accompanied by splitting or lamellation in seven patients. CONCLUSION:A considerable fraction of patients with hereditary nephritis that is difficult to diagnose clinicopathologically have TBMN/ADAS. It is important to recognize TBMN/ADAS and perform genetic testing in appropriate patients.
Project description:Alport syndrome is a hereditary glomerular disease that leads to kidney failure. It is caused by mutations affecting one of three chains of the collagen ?3?4?5(IV) heterotrimer, which forms the major collagen IV network of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM). In the absence of the ?3?4?5(IV) network, the ?1?1?2(IV) network substitutes, but it is insufficient to maintain normal kidney function. Inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme slows progression to kidney failure in patients with Alport syndrome but is not a cure. Restoration of the normal collagen ?3?4?5(IV) network in the GBM, by either cell- or gene-based therapy, is an attractive and logical approach toward a cure, but whether or not the abnormal GBM can be repaired once it has formed and is functioning is unknown. Using a mouse model of Alport syndrome and an inducible transgene system, we found that secretion of ?3?4?5(IV) heterotrimers by podocytes into a preformed, abnormal, filtering Alport GBM is effective at restoring the missing collagen IV network, slowing kidney disease progression, and extending life span. This proof-of-principle study demonstrates the plasticity of the mature GBM and validates the pursuit of therapeutic approaches aimed at normalizing the GBM to prolong kidney function.
Project description:The glomerular basement membrane (GBM) is a key component of the filtering unit in the kidney. Mutations involving any of the collagen IV genes (COL4A3, COL4A4, and COL4A5) affect GBM assembly and cause Alport syndrome, a progressive hereditary kidney disease with no definitive therapy. Previously, we have demonstrated that the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) antagonist uterine sensitization-associated gene-1 (USAG-1) negatively regulates the renoprotective action of BMP-7 in a mouse model of tubular injury during acute renal failure. Here, we investigated the role of USAG-1 in renal function in Col4a3-/- mice, which model Alport syndrome. Ablation of Usag1 in Col4a3-/- mice led to substantial attenuation of disease progression, normalization of GBM ultrastructure, preservation of renal function, and extension of life span. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that USAG-1 and BMP-7 colocalized in the macula densa in the distal tubules, lying in direct contact with glomerular mesangial cells. Furthermore, in cultured mesangial cells, BMP-7 attenuated and USAG-1 enhanced the expression of MMP-12, a protease that may contribute to GBM degradation. These data suggest that the pathogenetic role of USAG-1 in Col4a3-/- mice might involve crosstalk between kidney tubules and the glomerulus and that inhibition of USAG-1 may be a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of Alport syndrome.
Project description:The glomerular basement membrane (GBM) is an important component of the kidney's glomerular filtration barrier. Like all basement membranes, the GBM contains type IV collagen, laminin, nidogen, and heparan sulfate proteoglycan. It is flanked by the podocytes and glomerular endothelial cells that both synthesize it and adhere to it. Mutations that affect the GBM's collagen ?3?4?5(IV) components cause Alport syndrome (kidney disease with variable ear and eye defects) and its variants, including thin basement membrane nephropathy. Mutations in LAMB2 that impact the synthesis or function of laminin ?5?2?1 (LM-521) cause Pierson syndrome (congenital nephrotic syndrome with eye and neurological defects) and its less severe variants, including isolated congenital nephrotic syndrome. The very different types of kidney diseases that result from mutations in collagen IV vs. laminin are likely due to very different pathogenic mechanisms. A better understanding of these mechanisms should lead to targeted therapeutic approaches that can help people with these rare but important diseases.
Project description:Alport syndrome, historically referred to as hereditary glomerulonephritis with sensorineural deafness and anterior lenticonus, is a genetic disease of collagen ?3?4?5(IV) resulting in renal failure. The collagen ?3?4?5(IV) heterotrimer forms a network that is a major component of the kidney glomerular basement membrane (GBM) and basement membranes in the cochlea and eye. Alport syndrome, estimated to affect 1 in 5000-10,000 individuals, is caused by mutations in any one of the three genes that encode the ? chain components of the collagen ?3?4?5(IV) heterotrimer: COL4A3, COL4A4, and COL4A5. Although angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition is effective in Alport syndrome patients for slowing progression to end-stage renal disease, it is neither a cure nor an adequate long-term protector. The 2014 International Workshop on Alport Syndrome, held in Oxford, UK, from January 3-5, was organized by individuals and families living with Alport syndrome, in concert with international experts in the clinical, genetic, and basic science aspects of the disease. Stakeholders from diverse communities-patient families, physicians, geneticists, researchers, Pharma, and funding organizations-were brought together so that they could meet and learn from each other and establish strategies and collaborations for the future, with the overall aim of discovering much needed new treatments to prolong kidney function.
Project description:Autosomal recessive Alport syndrome is a progressive hematuric glomerulonephritis characterized by glomerular basement membrane abnormalities and associated with mutations in either the COL4A3 or the COL4A4 gene, which encode the alpha3 and alpha4 type IV collagen chains, respectively. To date, mutation screening in the two genes has been hampered by the lack of genomic structure information. We report here the complete characterization of the 48 exons of the COL4A4 gene, a comprehensive gene screen, and the subsequent detection of 10 novel mutations in eight patients diagnosed with autosomal recessive Alport syndrome. Furthermore, we identified a glycine to alanine substitution in the collagenous domain that is apparently silent in the heterozygous carriers, in 11.5% of all control individuals, and in one control individual homozygous for this glycine substitution. There has been no previous finding of a glycine substitution that is not associated with any obvious phenotype in homozygous individuals.
Project description:Thin-basement-membrane nephropathy (TBMN) and Alport syndrome (AS) are progressive collagen IV nephropathies caused by mutations in COL4A3/A4/A5 genes. These nephropathies invariably present with microscopic hematuria and frequently progress to proteinuria and CKD or ESRD during long-term follow-up. Nonetheless, the exact molecular mechanisms by which these mutations exert their deleterious effects on the glomerulus remain elusive. We hypothesized that defective trafficking of the COL4A3 chain causes a strong intracellular effect on the cell responsible for COL4A3 expression, the podocyte. To this end, we overexpressed normal and mutant COL4A3 chains (G1334E mutation) in human undifferentiated podocytes and tested their effects in various intracellular pathways using a microarray approach. COL4A3 overexpression in the podocyte caused chain retention in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that was associated with activation of unfolded protein response (UPR)-related markers of ER stress. Notably, the overexpression of normal or mutant COL4A3 chains differentially activated the UPR pathway. Similar results were observed in a novel knockin mouse carrying the Col4a3-G1332E mutation, which produced a phenotype consistent with AS, and in biopsy specimens from patients with TBMN carrying a heterozygous COL4A3-G1334E mutation. These results suggest that ER stress arising from defective localization of collagen IV chains in human podocytes contributes to the pathogenesis of TBMN and AS through activation of the UPR, a finding that may pave the way for novel therapeutic interventions for a variety of collagenopathies.
Project description:Pierson syndrome is a congenital nephrotic syndrome with eye and neurologic defects caused by mutations in laminin ?2 (LAMB2), a major component of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM). Pathogenic missense mutations in human LAMB2 cluster in or near the laminin amino-terminal (LN) domain, a domain required for extracellular polymerization of laminin trimers and basement membrane scaffolding. Here, we investigated an LN domain missense mutation, LAMB2-S80R, which was discovered in a patient with Pierson syndrome and unusually late onset of proteinuria. Biochemical data indicated that this mutation impairs laminin polymerization, which we hypothesized to be the cause of the patient's nephrotic syndrome. Testing this hypothesis in genetically altered mice showed that the corresponding amino acid change (LAMB2-S83R) alone is not pathogenic. However, expression of LAMB2-S83R significantly increased the rate of progression to kidney failure in a Col4a3-/- mouse model of autosomal recessive Alport syndrome and increased proteinuria in Col4a5+/- females that exhibit a mild form of X-linked Alport syndrome due to mosaic deposition of collagen ?3?4?5(IV) in the GBM. Collectively, these data show the pathogenicity of LAMB2-S80R and provide the first evidence of genetic modification of Alport phenotypes by variation in another GBM component. This finding could help explain the wide range of Alport syndrome onset and severity observed in patients with Alport syndrome, even for family members who share the same COL4 mutation. Our results also show the complexities of using model organisms to investigate genetic variants suspected of being pathogenic in humans.