Proteinuria impairs podocyte regeneration by sequestering retinoic acid.
ABSTRACT: In CKD, the risk of kidney failure and death depends on the severity of proteinuria, which correlates with the extent of podocyte loss and glomerular scarring. We investigated whether proteinuria contributes directly to progressive glomerulosclerosis through the suppression of podocyte regeneration and found that individual components of proteinuria exert distinct effects on renal progenitor survival and differentiation toward a podocyte lineage. In particular, albumin prevented podocyte differentiation from human renal progenitors in vitro by sequestering retinoic acid, thus impairing retinoic acid response element (RARE)-mediated transcription of podocyte-specific genes. In mice with Adriamycin nephropathy, a model of human FSGS, blocking endogenous retinoic acid synthesis increased proteinuria and exacerbated glomerulosclerosis. This effect was related to a reduction in podocyte number, as validated through genetic podocyte labeling in NPHS2.Cre;mT/mG transgenic mice. In RARE-lacZ transgenic mice, albuminuria reduced retinoic acid bioavailability and impaired RARE activation in renal progenitors, inhibiting their differentiation into podocytes. Treatment with retinoic acid restored RARE activity and induced the expression of podocyte markers in renal progenitors, decreasing proteinuria and increasing podocyte number, as demonstrated in serial biopsy specimens. These results suggest that albumin loss through the damaged filtration barrier impairs podocyte regeneration by sequestering retinoic acid and promotes the generation of FSGS lesions. Our findings may explain why reducing proteinuria delays CKD progression and provide a biologic rationale for the clinical use of pharmacologic modulators to induce regression of glomerular diseases.
Project description:Focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS) is a primary kidney disease that is commonly associated with proteinuria and progressive loss of glomerular function, leading to development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). FSGS is characterized by podocyte injury and depletion and collapse of glomerular capillary segments. Progression of FSGS is associated with TGF-? activation in podocytes; however, it is not clear how TGF-? signaling promotes disease. Here, we determined that podocyte-specific activation of TGF-? signaling in transgenic mice and BALB/c mice with Adriamycin-induced glomerulosclerosis is associated with endothelin-1 (EDN1) release by podocytes, which mediates mitochondrial oxidative stress and dysfunction in adjacent endothelial cells via paracrine EDN1 receptor type A (EDNRA) activation. Endothelial dysfunction promoted podocyte apoptosis, and inhibition of EDNRA or scavenging of mitochondrial-targeted ROS prevented podocyte loss, albuminuria, glomerulosclerosis, and renal failure. We confirmed reciprocal crosstalk between podocytes and endothelial cells in a coculture system. Biopsies from patients with FSGS exhibited increased mitochondrial DNA damage, consistent with EDNRA-mediated glomerular endothelial mitochondrial oxidative stress. Our studies indicate that segmental glomerulosclerosis develops as a result of podocyte-endothelial crosstalk mediated by EDN1/EDNRA-dependent mitochondrial dysfunction and suggest that targeting the reciprocal interaction between podocytes and endothelia may provide opportunities for therapeutic intervention in FSGS.
Project description:Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a glomerular disease characterized by proteinuria, progression to end-stage renal disease, and recurrence of proteinuria after kidney transplantation in about one-third of patients. It has been suggested that rituximab might treat recurrent FSGS through an unknown mechanism. Rituximab not only recognizes CD20 on B lymphocytes, but might also bind sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase acid-like 3b (SMPDL-3b) protein and regulate acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) activity. We hypothesized that rituximab prevents recurrent FSGS and preserves podocyte SMPDL-3b expression. We studied 41 patients at high risk for recurrent FSGS, 27 of whom were treated with rituximab at time of kidney transplant. SMPDL-3b protein, ASMase activity, and cytoskeleton remodeling were studied in cultured normal human podocytes that had been exposed to patient sera with or without rituximab. Rituximab treatment was associated with lower incidence of posttransplant proteinuria and stabilization of glomerular filtration rate. The number of SMPDL-3b(+) podocytes in postreperfusion biopsies was reduced in patients who developed recurrent FSGS. Rituximab partially prevented SMPDL-3b and ASMase down-regulation that was observed in podocytes treated with the sera of patients with recurrent FSGS. Overexpression of SMPDL-3b or treatment with rituximab was able to prevent disruption of the actin cytoskeleton and podocyte apoptosis induced by patient sera. This effect was diminished in cultured podocytes where SMPDL-3b was silenced. Our study suggests that treatment of high-risk patients with rituximab at time of kidney transplant might prevent recurrent FSGS by modulating podocyte function in an SMPDL-3b-dependent manner.
Project description:Glomerular diseases account for 90% of end-stage kidney disease. Podocyte loss is a common determining factor for the progression toward glomerulosclerosis. Mature podocytes cannot proliferate, but recent evidence suggests that they can be replaced by renal progenitors localized within the Bowman's capsule. Here, we demonstrate that Notch activation in human renal progenitors stimulates entry into the S-phase of the cell cycle and cell division, whereas its downregulation is required for differentiation toward the podocyte lineage. Indeed, a persistent activation of the Notch pathway induced podocytes to cross the G(2)/M checkpoint, resulting in cytoskeleton disruption and death by mitotic catastrophe. Notch expression was virtually absent in the glomeruli of healthy adult kidneys, while a strong upregulation was observed in renal progenitors and podocytes in patients affected by glomerular disorders. Accordingly, inhibition of the Notch pathway in mouse models of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis ameliorated proteinuria and reduced podocyte loss during the initial phases of glomerular injury, while inducing reduction of progenitor proliferation during the regenerative phases of glomerular injury with worsening of proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis. Taken altogether, these results suggest that the severity of glomerular disorders depends on the Notch-regulated balance between podocyte death and regeneration provided by renal progenitors.
Project description:Podocyte loss is a general mechanism of glomerular dysfunction that initiates and drives the progression of chronic kidney disease, which affects 10% of the world population. Here, we evaluate whether the regenerative response to podocyte injury influences chronic kidney disease outcome. In models of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis performed in inducible transgenic mice where podocytes are tagged, remission or progression of disease was determined by the amount of regenerated podocytes. When the same model was established in inducible transgenic mice where renal progenitors are tagged, the disease remitted if renal progenitors successfully differentiated into podocytes, while it persisted if differentiation was ineffective, resulting in glomerulosclerosis. Treatment with BIO, a GSK3s inhibitor, significantly increased disease remission by enhancing renal progenitor sensitivity to the differentiation effect of endogenous retinoic acid. These results establish renal progenitors as critical determinants of glomerular disease outcome and a pharmacological enhancement of their differentiation as a possible therapeutic strategy.
Project description:Loss of podocyte differentiation can cause nephrotic-range proteinuria and Focal and Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). As specific therapy is still lacking, FSGS frequently progresses to end-stage renal disease. The exact molecular mechanisms of FSGS and gene expression changes in podocytes are complex and widely unknown as marker changes have mostly been assessed on the glomerular level. To gain a better insight, we isolated podocytes of miR-193a overexpressing mice, which suffer from FSGS due to suppression of the podocyte master regulator Wt1. We characterised the podocytic gene expression changes by RNAseq and identified many novel candidate genes not linked to FSGS so far. This included strong upregulation of the receptor tyrosine kinase EphA6 and a massive dysregulation of circadian genes including the loss of the transcriptional activator Arntl. By comparison with podocyte-specific changes in other FSGS models we found a shared dysregulation of genes associated with the Wnt signaling cascade, while classical podocyte-specific genes appeared widely unaltered. An overlap with gene expression screens from human FSGS patients revealed a strong enrichment in genes associated with extra-cellular matrix (ECM) and metabolism. Our data suggest that FSGS progression might frequently depend on pathways that are often overlooked when considering podocyte homeostasis.
Project description:Mutations in α-actinin 4 (ACTN4) are linked to familial forms of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a kidney disease characterized by proteinuria due to podocyte injury. The mechanisms underlying ACTN4 mutant-associated FSGS are not completely understood. Although α-actinins are better known to cross-link actin filaments and modulate cytoskeletal organization, we have previously shown that ACTN4 interacts with transcription factors including estrogen receptor and MEF2s and potentiates their transcriptional activity. Nuclear receptors including retinoic acid receptor (RAR) have been proposed to play a protective role in podocytes. We show here that ACTN4 interacts with and enhances transcriptional activation by RARα. In addition, FSGS-linked ACTN4 mutants not only mislocalized to the cytoplasm, but also lost their ability to associate with nuclear receptors. Consequently, FSGS-linked ACTN4 mutants failed to potentiate transcriptional activation by nuclear hormone receptors in podocytes. In addition, overexpression of these mutants suppressed the transcriptional activity mediated by endogenous wild-type ACTN4 possibly by a cytoplasmic sequestration mechanism. Our data provide the first link between FSGS-linked ACTN4 mutants and transcriptional activation by nuclear receptor such as RARα and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ.
Project description:Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a cause of proteinuric kidney disease, compromising both native and transplanted kidneys. Treatment is limited because of a complex pathogenesis, including unknown serum factors. Here we report that serum soluble urokinase receptor (suPAR) is elevated in two-thirds of subjects with primary FSGS, but not in people with other glomerular diseases. We further find that a higher concentration of suPAR before transplantation underlies an increased risk for recurrence of FSGS after transplantation. Using three mouse models, we explore the effects of suPAR on kidney function and morphology. We show that circulating suPAR activates podocyte ?(3) integrin in both native and grafted kidneys, causing foot process effacement, proteinuria and FSGS-like glomerulopathy. Our findings suggest that the renal disease only develops when suPAR sufficiently activates podocyte ?(3) integrin. Thus, the disease can be abrogated by lowering serum suPAR concentrations through plasmapheresis, or by interfering with the suPAR-?(3) integrin interaction through antibodies and small molecules targeting either uPAR or ?(3) integrin. Our study identifies serum suPAR as a circulating factor that may cause FSGS.
Project description:Diseases of the renal filtration unit-the glomerulus-are the most common cause of chronic kidney disease. Podocytes are the pivotal cell type for the function of this filter and focal-segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a classic example of a podocytopathy leading to proteinuria and glomerular scarring. Currently, no targeted treatment of FSGS is available. This lack of therapeutic strategies is explained by a limited understanding of the defects in podocyte cell biology leading to FSGS. To date, most studies in the field have focused on protein-coding genes and their gene products. However, more than 80% of all transcripts produced by mammalian cells are actually non-coding. Here, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a relatively novel class of transcripts and have not been systematically studied in FSGS to date. The appropriate tools to facilitate lncRNA research for the renal scientific community are urgently required due to a row of challenges compared to classical analysis pipelines optimized for coding RNA expression analysis. Here, we present the bioinformatic pipeline CALINCA as a solution for this problem. CALINCA automatically analyzes datasets from murine FSGS models and quantifies both annotated and de novo assembled lncRNAs. In addition, the tool provides in-depth information on podocyte specificity of these lncRNAs, as well as evolutionary conservation and expression in human datasets making this pipeline a crucial basis to lncRNA studies in FSGS.
Project description:FSGS describes a renal histologic lesion with diverse causes and pathogenicities that are linked by podocyte injury and depletion. Subclasses of FSGS include primary, genetic, and secondary forms, the latter comprising maladaptive, viral, and drug-induced FSGS. Despite sharing certain clinical and histologic features, these subclasses differ noticeably in management and prognosis. Without an accepted nongenetic biomarker that discriminates among these FSGS types, classification of patients is often challenging. This review summarizes the clinical and histologic features, including the onset and severity of proteinuria as well as the presence of nephrotic syndrome, that may aid in identifying the specific FSGS subtype. The FSGS lesion is characterized by segmental sclerosis and must be differentiated from nonspecific focal global glomerulosclerosis. No light microscopic features are pathognomonic for a particular FSGS subcategory. The characteristics of podocyte foot process effacement on electron microscopy, while helpful in discriminating between primary and maladaptive FSGS, may be of little utility in detecting genetic forms of FSGS. When FSGS cannot be classified by clinicopathologic assessment, genetic analysis should be offered. Next generation DNA sequencing enables cost-effective screening of multiple genes simultaneously, but determining the pathogenicity of a detected genetic variant may be challenging. A more systematic evaluation of patients, as suggested herein, will likely improve therapeutic outcomes and the design of future trials in FSGS.
Project description:Recent studies indicate that the Notch signaling pathway plays an important role in the development of diabetic kidney disease and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Here we analyzed the degree of expression and localization of Notch ligands (Jagged1 and Delta1) and activated (cleaved) receptors (Notch1 and Notch2) in healthy human kidneys and in renal biopsies from a wide variety of kidney diseases. These included patients with minimal change disease, membranous nephropathy, lupus nephritis ISN/RPS classes III/IV/V, hypertensive nephrosclerosis, crescentic glomerulonephritis, tubulointerstitial fibrosis, IgA nephropathy, diabetic kidney disease, and FSGS. We found that cleaved Notch1, Notch2, and Jagged1 are expressed on podocytes in proteinuric nephropathies and their level of expression correlated with the amount of proteinuria across all disease groups. The degree of glomerulosclerosis correlated with podocyte expression of cleaved Notch1, while the severity of tubulointerstitial fibrosis and the estimated glomerular filtration rate correlated with expression of cleaved Notch1 in the tubulointerstitium. Hence, our results raise the possibility that Notch pathway activation is a common mechanism in the pathophysiology of a wide range of acquired renal diseases.