Nephrin is specifically located at the slit diaphragm of glomerular podocytes.
ABSTRACT: We describe here the size and location of nephrin, the first protein to be identified at the glomerular podocyte slit diaphragm. In Western blots, nephrin antibodies generated against the two terminal extracellular Ig domains of recombinant human nephrin recognized a 180-kDa protein in lysates of human glomeruli and a 150-kDa protein in transfected COS-7 cell lysates. In immunofluorescence, antibodies to this transmembrane protein revealed reactivity in the glomerular basement membrane region, whereas the podocyte cell bodies remained negative. In immunogold-stained thin sections, nephrin label was found at the slit between podocyte foot processes. The congenital nephrotic syndrome of the Finnish type (NPHS1), a disease in which the nephrin gene is mutated, is characterized by massive proteinuria already in utero and lack of slit diaphragm and foot processes. These features, together with the now demonstrated localization of nephrin to the slit diaphragm area, suggests an essential role for this protein in the normal glomerular filtration barrier. A zipper-like model for nephrin assembly in the slit diaphragm is discussed, based on the present and previous data.
Project description:Nephrin is required during kidney development for the maturation of podocytes and formation of the slit diaphragm junctional complex. Because nephrin expression is downregulated in acquired glomerular diseases, nephrin deficiency is considered a pathologic feature of glomerular injury. However, whether nephrin deficiency exacerbates glomerular injury in glomerular diseases has not been experimentally confirmed. Here, we generated mice with inducible RNA interference-mediated nephrin knockdown. Short-term nephrin knockdown (6 weeks), starting after the completion of kidney development at 5 weeks of age, did not affect glomerular structure or function. In contrast, mice with long-term nephrin knockdown (20 weeks) developed mild proteinuria, foot process effacement, filtration slit narrowing, mesangial hypercellularity and sclerosis, glomerular basement membrane thickening, subendothelial zone widening, and podocyte apoptosis. When subjected to an acquired glomerular insult induced by unilateral nephrectomy or doxorubicin, mice with short-term nephrin knockdown developed more severe glomerular injury compared with mice without nephrin knockdown. Additionally, nephrin-knockdown mice developed more exaggerated glomerular enlargement when subjected to unilateral nephrectomy and more podocyte apoptosis and depletion after doxorubicin challenge. AKT phosphorylation, which is a slit diaphragm-mediated and nephrin-dependent pathway in the podocyte, was markedly reduced in mice with long-term or short-term nephrin knockdown challenged with uninephrectomy or doxorubicin. Taken together, our data establish that under the basal condition and in acquired glomerular diseases, nephrin is required to maintain slit diaphragm integrity and slit diaphragm-mediated signaling to preserve glomerular function and podocyte viability in adult mice.
Project description:Robo2 is the cell surface receptor for the repulsive guidance cue Slit and is involved in axon guidance and neuronal migration. Nephrin is a podocyte slit-diaphragm protein that functions in the kidney glomerular filtration barrier. Here, we report that Robo2 is expressed at the basal surface of mouse podocytes and colocalizes with nephrin. Biochemical studies indicate that Robo2 forms a complex with nephrin in the kidney through adaptor protein Nck. In contrast to the role of nephrin that promotes actin polymerization, Slit2-Robo2 signaling inhibits nephrin-induced actin polymerization. In addition, the amount of F-actin associated with nephrin is increased in Robo2 knockout mice that develop an altered podocyte foot process structure. Genetic interaction study further reveals that loss of Robo2 alleviates the abnormal podocyte structural phenotype in nephrin null mice. These results suggest that Robo2 signaling acts as a negative regulator on nephrin to influence podocyte foot process architecture.
Project description:Podocytes are specialized cells of the kidney that form the blood filtration barrier in the kidney glomerulus. The barrier function of podocytes depends upon the development of specialized cell-cell adhesion complexes called slit-diaphragms that form between podocyte foot processes surrounding glomerular blood vessels. Failure of the slit-diaphragm to form results in leakage of high molecular weight proteins into the blood filtrate and urine, a condition called proteinuria. In this work, we test whether the zebrafish pronephros can be used as an assay system for the development of glomerular function with the goal of identifying novel components of the slit-diaphragm. We first characterized the function of the zebrafish homolog of Nephrin, the disease gene associated with the congenital nephritic syndrome of the Finnish type, and Podocin, the gene mutated in autosomal recessive steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome. Zebrafish nephrin and podocin were specifically expressed in pronephric podocytes and required for the development of pronephric podocyte cell structure. Ultrastructurally, disruption of nephrin or podocin expression resulted in a loss of slit-diaphragms at 72 and 96 h post-fertilization and failure to form normal podocyte foot processes. We also find that expression of the band 4.1/FERM domain gene mosaic eyes in podocytes is required for proper formation of slit-diaphragm cell-cell junctions. A functional assay of glomerular filtration barrier revealed that absence of normal nephrin, podocin or mosaic eyes expression results in loss of glomerular filtration discrimination and aberrant passage of high molecular weight substances into the glomerular filtrate.
Project description:The kidney filter represents a unique assembly of podocyte epithelial cells that tightly enwrap the glomerular capillaries with their foot processes and the interposed slit diaphragm. So far, very little is known about the guidance cues and polarity signals required to regulate proper development and maintenance of the glomerular filtration barrier. We now identify Par3, Par6, and atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) polarity proteins as novel Neph1-Nephrin-associated proteins. The interaction was mediated through the PDZ domain of Par3 and conserved carboxyl terminal residues in Neph1 and Nephrin. Par3, Par6, and aPKC localized to the slit diaphragm as shown in immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. Consistent with a critical role for aPKC activity in podocytes, inhibition of glomerular aPKC activity with a pseudosubstrate inhibitor resulted in a loss of regular podocyte foot process architecture. These data provide an important link between cell recognition mediated through the Neph1-Nephrin complex and Par-dependent polarity signaling and suggest that this molecular interaction is essential for establishing the three-dimensional architecture of podocytes at the kidney filtration barrier.
Project description:Nephrin is a type-1 transmembrane protein and a key component of the podocyte slit diaphragm, the ultimate glomerular plasma filter. Genetic and acquired diseases affecting expression or function of nephrin lead to severe proteinuria and distortion or absence of the slit diaphragm. Here, we showed by using a surface plasmon resonance biosensor that soluble recombinant variants of nephrin, containing the extracellular part of the protein, interact with each other in a specific and concentration-dependent manner. This molecular interaction was increased by twofold in the presence of physiological Ca(2+)concentration, indicating that the binding is not dependent on, but rather promoted by Ca(2+). Furthermore, transfected HEK293 cells and an immortalized mouse podocyte cell line overexpressing full-length human nephrin formed cellular aggregates, with cell-cell contacts staining strongly for nephrin. The distance between plasma membranes at the nephrin-containing contact sites was shown by electron microscopy to be 40 to 50 nm, similar to the width of glomerular slit diaphragm. The cell contacts could be dissociated with antibodies reacting with the first two extracellular Ig-like domains of nephrin. Wild-type HEK293 cells were shown to express slit diaphragm components CD2AP, P-cadherin, FAT, and NEPH1. The results show that nephrin molecules exhibit homophilic interactions that could promote cellular contacts through direct nephrin-nephrin interactions, and that the other slit diaphragm components expressed could contribute to that interaction.
Project description:Nephrin is a key functional component of the slit diaphragm, the structurally unresolved molecular filter in renal glomerular capillaries. Abnormal nephrin or its absence results in severe proteinuria and loss of the slit diaphragm. The diaphragm is a thin extracellular membrane spanning the approximately 40-nm-wide filtration slit between podocyte foot processes covering the capillary surface. Using electron tomography, we show that the slit diaphragm comprises a network of winding molecular strands with pores the same size as or smaller than albumin molecules, as demonstrated in humans, rats, and mice. In the network, which is occasionally stratified, immunogold-nephrin antibodies labeled individually detectable globular cross strands, about 35 nm in length, lining the lateral elongated pores. The cross strands, emanating from both sides of the slit, contacted at the slit center but had free distal endings. Shorter strands associated with the cross strands were observed at their base. Immunolabeling of recombinant nephrin molecules on transfected cells and in vitrified solution corroborated the findings in kidney. Nephrin-deficient proteinuric patients with Finnish-type congenital nephrosis and nephrin-knockout mice had only narrow filtration slits that lacked the slit diaphragm network and the 35-nm-long strands but contained shorter molecular structures. The results suggest the direct involvement of nephrin molecules in constituting the macromolecule-retaining slit diaphragm and its pores.
Project description:In most forms of glomerular diseases, loss of size selectivity by the kidney filtration barrier is associated with changes in the morphology of podocytes. The kidney filtration barrier is comprised of the endothelial lining, the glomerular basement membrane, and the podocyte intercellular junction, or slit diaphragm. The cell adhesion proteins nephrin and neph1 localize to the slit diaphragm and transduce signals in a Src family kinase Fyn-mediated tyrosine phosphorylation-dependent manner. Studies in cell culture suggest nephrin phosphorylation-dependent signaling events are primarily involved in regulation of actin dynamics and lamellipodium formation. Nephrin phosphorylation is a proximal event that occurs both during development and following podocyte injury. We hypothesized that abrogation of nephrin phosphorylation following injury would prevent nephrin-dependent actin remodeling and foot process morphological changes. Utilizing a biased screening approach, we found nonreceptor Src homology 2 (sh2) domain-containing phosphatase Shp2 to be associated with phosphorylated nephrin. We observed an increase in nephrin tyrosine phosphorylation in the presence of Shp2 in cell culture studies. In the human glomerulopathies minimal-change nephrosis and membranous nephropathy, there is an increase in Shp2 phosphorylation, a marker of increased Shp2 activity. Mouse podocytes lacking Shp2 do not develop foot process spreading when subjected to podocyte injury in vivo using protamine sulfate or nephrotoxic serum (NTS). In the NTS model, we observed a lack of foot process spreading in mouse podocytes with Shp2 deleted and smaller amounts of proteinuria. Taken together, these results suggest that Shp2-dependent signaling events are necessary for changes in foot process structure and function following injury.
Project description:NPHS2 was recently identified as a gene whose mutations cause autosomal recessive steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome. Its product, podocin, is a new member of the stomatin family, which consists of hairpin-like integral membrane proteins with intracellular NH(2)- and COOH-termini. Podocin is expressed in glomerular podocytes, but its subcellular distribution and interaction with other proteins are unknown. Here we show, by immunoelectron microscopy, that podocin localizes to the podocyte foot process membrane, at the insertion site of the slit diaphragm. Podocin accumulates in an oligomeric form in lipid rafts of the slit diaphragm. Moreover, GST pull-down experiments reveal that podocin associates via its COOH-terminal domain with CD2AP, a cytoplasmic binding partner of nephrin, and with nephrin itself. That podocin interacts with CD2AP and nephrin in vivo is shown by coimmunoprecipitation of these proteins from glomerular extracts. Furthermore, in vitro studies reveal direct interaction of podocin and CD2AP. Hence, as with the erythrocyte lipid raft protein stomatin, podocin is present in high-order oligomers and may serve a scaffolding function. We postulate that podocin serves in the structural organization of the slit diaphragm and the regulation of its filtration function.
Project description:Atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) is a central component of the evolutionarily conserved Par3-Par6-aPKC complex, one of the fundamental regulators of cell polarity. We recently demonstrated that these proteins interact with Neph-nephrin molecules at the slit diaphragm of the glomerular filtration barrier. Here, we report that podocyte-specific deletion of aPKClambda/iota in mice results in severe proteinuria, nephrotic syndrome, and death at 4 to 5 wk after birth. Podocyte foot processes of knockout mice developed structural defects, including mislocalization of the slit diaphragm. In the glomerulus, aPKClambda/iota was primarily expressed in developing glomerular epithelial cells and podocyte foot processes. Interestingly, under physiologic conditions, aPKClambda/iota translocated from the apical surface to the basolateral side of developing podocytes, and this translocation preceded the development of foot processes and formation of slit diaphragms. Supporting a critical role for aPKClambda/iota in the maintenance of slit diaphragms and podocyte foot processes, aPKClambda/iota associated with the Neph-nephrin slit diaphragm complex and localized to the tips of filopodia and leading edges of cultured podocytes. These results suggest that aPKC signaling is fundamental to glomerular maintenance and development.
Project description:Podocytes are specialized epithelial cells of the kidney blood filtration barrier that contribute to permselectivity via a series of interdigitating actin-rich foot processes. Positioned between adjacent projections is a unique cell junction known as the slit diaphragm, which is physically connected to the actin cytoskeleton via the transmembrane protein nephrin. Evidence indicates that tyrosine phosphorylation of the intracellular tail of nephrin initiates signaling events, including recruitment of cytoplasmic adaptor proteins Nck1 and Nck2 that regulate actin cytoskeletal dynamics. Nephrin tyrosine phosphorylation is altered in human and experimental renal diseases characterized by pathologic foot process remodeling, prompting the hypothesis that phosphonephrin signaling directly influences podocyte morphology. To explore this possibility, we generated and analyzed knockin mice with mutations that disrupt nephrin tyrosine phosphorylation and Nck1/2 binding (nephrin(Y3F/Y3F) mice). Homozygous nephrin(Y3F/Y3F) mice developed progressive proteinuria accompanied by structural changes in the filtration barrier, including podocyte foot process effacement, irregular thickening of the glomerular basement membrane, and dilated capillary loops, with a similar but later onset phenotype in heterozygous animals. Furthermore, compared with wild-type mice, nephrin(Y3F/Y3F) mice displayed delayed recovery in podocyte injury models. Profiling of nephrin tyrosine phosphorylation dynamics in wild-type mice subjected to podocyte injury indicated site-specific differences in phosphorylation at baseline, injury, and recovery, which correlated with loss of nephrin-Nck1/2 association during foot process effacement. Our results define an essential requirement for nephrin tyrosine phosphorylation in stabilizing podocyte morphology and suggest a model in which dynamic changes in phosphotyrosine-based signaling confer plasticity to the podocyte actin cytoskeleton.