Podocyte-Specific Deletion of Yes-Associated Protein Causes FSGS and Progressive Renal Failure.
ABSTRACT: FSGS is the most common primary glomerular disease underlying ESRD in the United States and is increasing in incidence globally. FSGS results from podocyte injury, yet the mechanistic details of disease pathogenesis remain unclear. This has resulted in an unmet clinical need for cell-specific therapy in the treatment of FSGS and other proteinuric kidney diseases. We previously identified Yes-associated protein (YAP) as a prosurvival signaling molecule, the in vitro silencing of which increases podocyte susceptibility to apoptotic stimulus. YAP is a potent oncogene that is a prominent target for chemotherapeutic drug development. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that podocyte-specific deletion of Yap leads to proteinuric kidney disease through increased podocyte apoptosis. Yap was selectively silenced in podocytes using Cre-mediated recombination controlled by the podocin promoter. Yap silencing in podocytes resulted in podocyte apoptosis, podocyte depletion, proteinuria, and an increase in serum creatinine. Histologically, features characteristic of FSGS, including mesangial sclerosis, podocyte foot process effacement, tubular atrophy, interstitial fibrosis, and casts, were observed. In human primary FSGS, we noted reduced glomerular expression of YAP. Taken together, these results suggest a role for YAP as a physiologic antagonist of podocyte apoptosis, the signaling of which is essential for maintaining the integrity of the glomerular filtration barrier. These data suggest potential nephrotoxicity with strategies directed toward inhibition of YAP function. Further studies should evaluate the role of YAP in proteinuric glomerular disease pathogenesis and its potential utility as a therapeutic target.
Project description:Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a chronic glomerular disease with poor clinical outcomes. Podocyte loss via apoptosis is one important mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of FSGS. Recently, Yes-associated-protein (YAP), a key downstream protein in the Hippo pathway, was identified as an activator for multiple gene transcriptional factors in the nucleus to control cell proliferation and apoptosis. To investigate the potential role of YAP in the progression of FSGS, we examined kidney samples from patients with minimal change disease or FSGS and found that increases in podocyte apoptosis is positively correlated with the cytoplasmic distribution of YAP in human FSGS. Utilizing an established mT/mG transgenic mouse model and primary cultured podocytes, we found that YAP was distributed uniformly in nucleus and cytoplasm in the podocytes of control animals. Adriamycin treatment induced gradual nuclear exclusion of YAP with enhanced phospho-YAP/YAP ratio, accompanied by the induction of podocyte apoptosis both in vivo and in vitro. Moreover, we used verteporfin to treat an Adriamycin-induced FSGS mouse model, and found YAP inhibition by verteporfin induced nuclear exclusion of YAP, thus increasing podocyte apoptosis and accelerating disease progression. Therefore, our findings suggest that YAP nuclear distribution and activation in podocytes is an important endogenous anti-apoptotic mechanism during the progression of FSGS.
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:Glomerular sclerotic lesions develop when the glomerular filtration surface area exceeds the availability of podocyte foot process coverage, but the mechanisms involved are incompletely characterized. We evaluated potential mechanisms using a transgenic (podocin promoter-AA-4E-BP1) rat in which podocyte capacity for hypertrophy in response to growth factor/nutrient signaling is impaired. FSGS lesions resembling human FSGS developed spontaneously by 7 months of age, and could be induced earlier by accelerating kidney hypertrophy by nephrectomy. Early segmental glomerular lesions occurred in the absence of a detectable reduction in average podocyte number per glomerulus and resulted from the loss of podocytes in individual glomerular capillary loops. Parietal epithelial cell division, accumulation on Bowman's capsule, and tuft invasion occurred at these sites. Three different interventions that prevented kidney growth and glomerular enlargement (calorie intake reduction, inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin complex, and inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme) protected against FSGS lesion development, even when initiated late in the process. Ki67 nuclear staining and unbiased transcriptomic analysis identified increased glomerular (but not podocyte) cell cycling as necessary for FSGS lesion development. The rat FSGS-associated transcriptomic signature correlated with human glomerular transcriptomes associated with disease progression, compatible with similar processes occurring in man. We conclude that FSGS lesion development resulted from glomerular growth that exceeded the capacity of podocytes to adapt and adequately cover some parts of the filtration surface. Modest modulation of the growth side of this equation significantly ameliorated FSGS progression, suggesting that glomerular growth is an underappreciated therapeutic target for preservation of renal function.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Understanding podocyte-specific responses to injury at a systems level is difficult because injury leads to podocyte loss or an increase of extracellular matrix, altering glomerular cellular composition. Finding a window into early podocyte injury might help identify molecular pathways involved in the podocyte stress response.<h4>Methods</h4>We developed an approach to apply proteome analysis to very small samples of purified podocyte fractions. To examine podocytes in early disease states in FSGS mouse models, we used podocyte fractions isolated from individual mice after chemical induction of glomerular disease (with Doxorubicin or LPS). We also applied single-glomerular proteome analysis to tissue from patients with FSGS.<h4>Results</h4>Transcriptome and proteome analysis of glomeruli from patients with FSGS revealed an underrepresentation of podocyte-specific genes and proteins in late-stage disease. Proteome analysis of purified podocyte fractions from FSGS mouse models showed an early stress response that includes perturbations of metabolic, mechanical, and proteostasis proteins. Additional analysis revealed a high correlation between the amount of proteinuria and expression levels of the mechanosensor protein Filamin-B. Increased expression of Filamin-B in podocytes in biopsy samples from patients with FSGS, in single glomeruli from proteinuric rats, and in podocytes undergoing mechanical stress suggests that this protein has a role in detrimental stress responses. In <i>Drosophila</i>, nephrocytes with reduced filamin homolog Cher displayed altered filtration capacity, but exhibited no change in slit diaphragm structure.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We identified conserved mechanisms of the podocyte stress response through ultrasensitive proteome analysis of human glomerular FSGS tissue and purified native mouse podocytes during early disease stages. This approach enables systematic comparisons of large-scale proteomics data and phenotype-to-protein correlation.
Project description:Advanced age portends a poorer prognosis in FSGS. To understand the impact of age on glomerular podocytes and parietal epithelial cells (PECs), experimental FSGS was induced in 3m-old mice (20-year old human age) and 27m-old mice (78-year old human age) by abruptly depleting podocytes with a cytopathic anti-podocyte antibody. Despite similar binding of the disease-inducing antibody, podocyte density was lower in aged FSGS mice compared to young FSGS mice. Activated PEC density was higher in aged versus young FSGS mice, as was the percentage of total activated PECs. Additionally, the percentage of glomeruli containing PECs with evidence of phosphorylated ERK and EMT was higher in aged FSGS mice. Extracellular matrix, measured by collagen IV and silver staining, was higher in aged FSGS mice along Bowman's capsule. However, collagen IV accumulation in the glomerular tufts alone and in glomeruli with both tuft and Bowman's capsule accumulation were similar in young FSGS and aged FSGS mice. Thus, the major difference in collagen IV staining in FSGS was along Bowman's capsule in aged mice. The significant differences in podocytes, PECs and extracellular matrix accumulation between young mice and old mice with FSGS might explain the differences in outcomes in FSGS based on age.
Project description:FSGS is characterized by segmental scarring of the glomerulus and is a leading cause of kidney failure. Identification of genes causing FSGS has improved our understanding of disease mechanisms and points to defects in the glomerular epithelial cell, the podocyte, as a major factor in disease pathogenesis. Using a combination of genome-wide linkage studies and whole-exome sequencing in a kindred with familial FSGS, we identified a missense mutation R431C in anillin (ANLN), an F-actin binding cell cycle gene, as a cause of FSGS. We screened 250 additional families with FSGS and found another variant, G618C, that segregates with disease in a second family with FSGS. We demonstrate upregulation of anillin in podocytes in kidney biopsy specimens from individuals with FSGS and kidney samples from a murine model of HIV-1-associated nephropathy. Overexpression of R431C mutant ANLN in immortalized human podocytes results in enhanced podocyte motility. The mutant anillin displays reduced binding to the slit diaphragm-associated scaffold protein CD2AP. Knockdown of the ANLN gene in zebrafish morphants caused a loss of glomerular filtration barrier integrity, podocyte foot process effacement, and an edematous phenotype. Collectively, these findings suggest that anillin is important in maintaining the integrity of the podocyte actin cytoskeleton.
Project description:Abstract Glomerular podocytes play a key role in proteinuric diseases. Accumulating evidence suggests that cGMP signaling has podocyte protective effects. The major source of cGMP generation in podocytes is natriuretic peptides. The natriuretic peptide clearance receptor (NPRC) binds and degrades natriuretic peptides. As a result, NPRC inhibits natriuretic peptide‐induced cGMP generation. To enhance cGMP generation in podocytes, we blocked natriuretic peptide clearance using the specific NPRC ligand ANP(4‐23). We then studied the effects of NPRC blockade in both cultured podocytes and in a mouse transgenic (TG) model of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) created in our laboratory. In this model, a single dose of the podocyte toxin puromycin aminonucleoside (PAN) causes robust albuminuria in TG mice, but only mild disease in non‐TG animals. We found that natriuretic peptides protected cultured podocytes from PAN‐induced apoptosis, and that ANP(4‐23) enhanced natriuretic peptide‐induced cGMP generation in vivo. PAN‐induced heavy proteinuria in vehicle‐treated TG mice, and this increase in albuminuria was reduced by treatment with ANP(4‐23). Treatment with ANP(4‐23) also reduced the number of mice with glomerular injury and enhanced urinary cGMP excretion, but these differences were not statistically significant. Systolic BP was similar in vehicle and ANP(4‐23)‐treated mice. These data suggest that: 1. Pharmacologic blockade of NPRC may be useful for treating glomerular diseases such as FSGS, and 2. Treatment outcomes might be improved by optimizing NPRC blockade to inhibit natriuretic peptide clearance more effectively. The effects of blocking natriuretic peptide clearance from the circulation was examined in a mouse model of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). We found that blockade of the natriuretic clearance receptor protected glomerular podocytes from apoptosis and inhibited albuminuria in FSGS.
Project description:Progressive kidney diseases are often associated with scarring of the kidney's filtration unit, a condition called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). This scarring is due to loss of podocytes, cells critical for glomerular filtration, and leads to proteinuria and kidney failure. Inherited forms of FSGS are caused by Rac1-activating mutations, and Rac1 induces TRPC5 ion channel activity and cytoskeletal remodeling in podocytes. Whether TRPC5 activity mediates FSGS onset and progression is unknown. We identified a small molecule, AC1903, that specifically blocks TRPC5 channel activity in glomeruli of proteinuric rats. Chronic administration of AC1903 suppressed severe proteinuria and prevented podocyte loss in a transgenic rat model of FSGS. AC1903 also provided therapeutic benefit in a rat model of hypertensive proteinuric kidney disease. These data indicate that TRPC5 activity drives disease and that TRPC5 inhibitors may be valuable for the treatment of progressive kidney diseases.
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:Podocytes are crucial for the establishment of the blood-urine filtration barrier in the glomeruli of the kidney. These cells are mainly affected during glomerulopathies causing proteinuria and kidney function impairment. Ongoing podocyte injury leads to podocyte loss, finally followed by end-stage kidney disease. Podocytes display a predominant nuclear localization of YAP (Yes-associated protein), one effector protein of the Hippo pathway, which regulates the balance between proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis in cells. Nuclear active YAP seems to be critical for podocyte survival in vivo and in vitro. We can show here that different treatments leading to sequestration of YAP into the cytoplasm in podocytes, like decreased rigidity of the substrate, incubation with dasatinib, or overexpression of Hippo pathway members result in the induction of apoptosis. A RNA sequencing analysis of large tumor suppressor kinase 2 (LATS2) overexpressing podocytes confirmed a significant upregulation of apoptotic genes. The downregulation of Hippo pathway components suggests a feedback mechanism in podocytes. Noteworthy was the regulation of genes involved in cell-cell junction, the composition of the extracellular space, and cell migration. This suggests an influence of Hippo pathway activity on podocyte integrity. As focal segmental glomerulopathy (FSGS) goes along with an activation of the Hippo pathway in podocytes, a comparison of our data with two independent studies of transcriptional regulation in human FSGS glomeruli obtained from the Nephroseq database was performed. This comparison affirmed a multitude of consistent transcriptional changes concerning the regulation of genes influencing apoptosis and the Hippo signaling pathway as well as cell junction formation and cell migration. The link between Hippo pathway activation in podocytes and the regulation of junction and migration processes in vivo might be a fundamental mechanism of glomerular sclerosis and loss of renal function.