Evidence for activation of the unfolded protein response in collagen IV nephropathies.
ABSTRACT: 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:Familial glomerular hematuria(s) comprise a genetically heterogeneous group of conditions which include Alport Syndrome (AS) and thin basement membrane nephropathy (TBMN). Here we investigated 57 Greek-Cypriot families presenting glomerular microscopic hematuria (GMH), with or without proteinuria or chronic kidney function decline, but excluded classical AS. We specifically searched the COL4A3/A4 genes and identified 8 heterozygous mutations in 16 families (28,1%). Eight non-related families featured the founder mutation COL4A3-p.(G1334E). Renal biopsies from 8 patients showed TBMN and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Ten patients (11.5%) reached end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) at ages ranging from 37-69-yo (mean 50,1-yo). Next generation sequencing of the patients who progressed to ESKD failed to reveal a second mutation in any of the COL4A3/A4/A5 genes, supporting that true heterozygosity for COL4A3/A4 mutations predisposes to CRF/ESKD. Although this could be viewed as a milder and late-onset form of autosomal dominant AS, we had no evidence of ultrastructural features or extrarenal manifestations that would justify this diagnosis. Functional studies in cultured podocytes transfected with wild type or mutant COL4A3 chains showed retention of mutant collagens and differential activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) cascade. This signifies the potential role of the UPR cascade in modulating the final phenotype in patients with collagen IV nephropathies.
Project description:Thin basement membrane nephropathy (TBMN) is often attributable to mutations in the COL4A3 or COL4A4 genes that encode the α3 and α4 chains of type IV collagen, respectively, a major structural protein in the glomerular basement membrane. The aim of this study was to explore a new disease-related genetic mutation associated with the clinical phenotype observed in a Chinese Han family with autosomal dominant TBMN. We conducted a clinical and genetic study comprising seven members of this TBMN family. Mutation screening for COL4A3 and COL4A4 was carried out by direct sequencing. The RNA sequences associated with both proteins were also analyzed with reverse transcription PCR and TA cloning. The result showed that every affected patient had a novel heterozygous splicing mutation in COL4A4 (c.1459 + 1G > A), which led to the elimination of the entire exon 21 from the COL4A4 cDNA and resulted in the direct splicing of exons 20 and 22. This in turn caused a frameshift mutation after exon 20 in the open reading frame of COL4A4. In conclusion, we describe a novel splicing mutation in COL4A4 that results in TBMN. This analysis increases our understanding of TBMN phenotype-genotype correlations, which should facilitate more accurate diagnosis and prenatal diagnosis of TBMN.
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:The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) in recent years has led to a rapid discovery of novel or rare genetic variants in human kidney cell genes, which is transforming the risk assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of kidney disease. Mutations may lead to protein misfolding, disruption of protein trafficking, and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) retention. An imbalance between the load of misfolded proteins and the folding capacity of the ER causes ER stress and unfolded protein response. Mutations in nephrin (NPHS1), podocin (NPHS2), laminin ?2 (LAMB2), and ?-actinin-4 (ACTN4) have been shown to induce ER stress in HEK293 cells and podocytes in hereditary nephrotic syndromes; various founder mutations in collagen IV ? chains (COL4A) have been demonstrated to activate podocyte ER stress in collagen IV nephropathies; and mutations in uromodulin (UMOD) have been reported to trigger tubular ER stress in autosomal dominant tubulointerstitial kidney disease. Meanwhile, ER resident protein SEC63 may modify disease severity in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. These findings underscore the importance of ER stress in the pathogenesis of monogenic kidney disease. Recently, we have identified mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF) and cysteine-rich with EGF-like domains 2 (CRELD2) as urinary ER stress biomarkers in ER stress-mediated kidney diseases.
Project description:Glomerular epithelial podocytes are highly specialized cells that play a crucial role in maintaining normal function of the glomerular filtration barrier via their foot processes. Chrysin (5,7-dihydroxyflavone) is a natural flavonoid found in propolis and mushrooms that has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties. This study aimed to evaluate the renoprotective effects of chrysin on podocyte apoptotic loss and slit diaphragm protein deficiency in high glucose-exposed podocytes and in db/db mouse kidneys. Exposure to high glucose (33 mmol/L) caused glomerular podocyte apoptosis in vitro, which was dose-dependently attenuated by nontoxic chrysin (1-20 μmol/L) through reduction of DNA fragmentation. Chrysin treatment dose-dependently restored the increased Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, and suppressed Apaf-1 induction and the elevated cytochrome c release in high glucose-exposed renal podocytes. In diabetic db/db mice, oral administration of chrysin (10 mg·kg-1·d-1, for 10 weeks) significantly attenuated proteinuria, and alleviated the abnormal alterations in glomerular ultrastructure, characterized by apoptotic podocytes and foot process effacement. In addition, this compound improved the induction of slit diaphragm proteins podocin/nephrin in the diabetic glomeruli. Exposure to high glucose elevated the unfolded protein response (UPR) to ER stress in renal podocytes, evidenced by up-regulation of PERK-eIF2α-ATF4-CHOP. Chrysin treatment blocked such ER stress responses pertinent to podocyte apoptosis and reduced synthesis of slit diaphragm proteins in vitro and in vivo. These observations demonstrate that targeting ER stress is an underlying mechanism of chrysin-mediated amelioration of diabetes-associated podocyte injury and dysfunction.
Project description:Alport syndrome is an inherited nephropathy associated with mutations in genes encoding type IV collagen chains present in the glomerular basement membrane. COL4A5 mutations are associated with the major X-linked form of the disease, and COL4A3 and COL4A4 mutations are associated with autosomal recessive and dominant forms (thought to be involved in 15% and 1%-5% of the families, respectively) and benign familial hematuria. Mutation screening of these three large genes is time-consuming and expensive. Here, we carried out a combination of multiplex PCR, amplicon quantification, and next generation sequencing (NGS) analysis of three genes in 101 unrelated patients. We identified 88 mutations and 6 variations of unknown significance on 116 alleles in 83 patients. Two additional indel mutations were found only by secondary Sanger sequencing, but they were easily identified retrospectively with the web-based sequence visualization tool Integrative Genomics Viewer. Altogether, 75 mutations were novel. Sequencing the three genes simultaneously was particularly advantageous as the mode of inheritance could not be determined with certainty in many instances. The proportion of mutations in COL4A3 and COL4A4 was notably high, and the autosomal dominant forms of Alport syndrome appear more frequently than reported previously. Finally, this approach allowed the identification of large COL4A3 and COL4A4 rearrangements not described previously. We conclude that NGS is efficient, reduces screening time and cost, and facilitates the provision of appropriate genetic counseling in Alport syndrome.
Project description:Using a gelatin microbial transglutaminase (gelatin-mTG) cell culture platform tuned to exhibit stiffness spanning that of healthy and diseased glomeruli, we demonstrate that kidney podocytes show marked stiffness sensitivity. Podocyte-specific markers that are critical in the formation of the renal filtration barrier are found to be regulated in association with stiffness-mediated cellular behaviors. While podocytes typically de-differentiate in culture and show diminished physiological function in nephropathies characterized by altered tissue stiffness, we show that gelatin-mTG substrates with Young's modulus near that of healthy glomeruli elicit a pro-differentiation and maturation response in podocytes better than substrates either softer or stiffer. The pro-differentiation phenotype is characterized by upregulation of gene and protein expression associated with podocyte function, which is observed for podocytes cultured on gelatin-mTG gels of physiological stiffness independent of extracellular matrix coating type and density. Signaling pathways involved in stiffness-mediated podocyte behaviors are identified, revealing the interdependence of podocyte mechanotransduction and maintenance of their physiological function. This study also highlights the utility of the gelatin-mTG platform as an in vitro system with tunable stiffness over a range relevant for recapitulating mechanical properties of soft tissues, suggesting its potential impact on a wide range of research in cellular biophysics.
Project description:Alport syndrome (AS) is a genetic disorder involving mutations in the genes encoding collagen IV ?3, ?4 or ?5 chains, resulting in the impairment of glomerular basement membrane. Podocytes are responsible for production and correct assembly of collagen IV isoforms; however, data on the phenotypic characteristics of human AS podocytes and their functional alterations are currently limited. The evident loss of viable podocytes into the urine of patients with active glomerular disease enables their isolation in a non-invasive way. We here isolated, immortalized and subcloned podocytes from the urine of three different AS patients for molecular and functional characterization. AS podocytes expressed a typical podocyte signature and showed a collagen IV profile reflecting each patient's mutation. Furthermore, RNA-sequencing analysis revealed 348 genes differentially expressed in AS podocytes compared with control podocytes. Gene Ontology analysis underlined the enrichment in genes involved in cell motility, adhesion, survival, and angiogenesis. In parallel, AS podocytes displayed reduced motility. Finally, a functional permeability assay, using a podocyte-glomerular endothelial cell co-culture system, was established and AS podocyte co-cultures showed a significantly higher permeability of albumin compared to control podocyte co-cultures, in both static and dynamic conditions under continuous perfusion. In conclusion, our data provide a molecular characterization of immortalized AS podocytes, highlighting alterations in several biological processes related to extracellular matrix remodelling. Moreover, we have established an in vitro model to reproduce the altered podocyte permeability observed in patients with AS. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Project description:Ameliorating the function of the glomerular barrier to circulating proteins by blocking angiotensin II (Ang II) translates into less risk of progression toward end-stage renal failure in diabetic and nondiabetic nephropathies. However, the mechanisms underlying this barrier protection are not clear. Specialized contacts between adjacent podocytes are major candidate targets, and the actin cytoskeleton is emerging as a regulatory element. Here, we present data demonstrating that Ang II induced reorganization of F-actin fibers and redistribution of zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) that is physically associated with actin in murine podocytes. These effects were paralleled by increased albumin permeability across podocyte monolayers. The F-actin stabilizer jasplakinolide prevented both ZO-1 redistribution and albumin leakage, suggesting that actin cytoskeleton rearrangement is instrumental to podocyte permselective dysfunction induced by Ang II. Changes in both F-actin and ZO-1 patterns were confirmed in glomeruli of rat isolated perfused kidneys on short infusion of Ang II, leading to increased protein excretion. Podocyte dysfunction was mediated by Ang II type 1 receptor and was partly dependent on Src kinase-phospholipase C activation. These data demonstrate that strategies aimed at stabilizing podocyte-podocyte contacts and targeting the relevant intracellular signal transduction are crucial to renoprotection.
Project description: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.