Targeting Neph1 and ZO-1 protein-protein interaction in podocytes prevents podocyte injury and preserves glomerular filtration function.
ABSTRACT: Targeting protein-protein interaction (PPI) is rapidly becoming an attractive alternative for drug development. While drug development commonly involves inhibiting a PPI, in this study, we show that stabilizing PPI may also be therapeutically beneficial. Junctional proteins Neph1 and ZO-1 and their interaction is an important determinant of the structural integrity of slit diaphragm, which is a critical component of kidney's filtration system. Since injury induces loss of this interaction, we hypothesized that strengthening this interaction may protect kidney's filtration barrier and preserve kidney function. In this study, Neph1-ZO-1 structural complex was screened for the presence of small druggable pockets formed from contributions from both proteins. One such pocket was identified and screened using a small molecule library. Isodesmosine (ISD) a rare naturally occurring amino acid and a biomarker for pulmonary arterial hypertension was selected as the best candidate and to establish the proof of concept, its ability to enhance Neph1-CD and ZO-1 binding was tested. Results from biochemical binding analysis showed that ISD enhanced Neph1 and ZO-1 interaction under in vitro and in vivo conditions. Importantly, ISD treated podocytes were resistant to injury-induced loss of transepithelial permeability. Finally, mouse and zebrafish studies show that ISD protects from injury-induced renal damage.
Project description:Neph1-deficient mice develop nephrotic syndrome at birth, indicating the importance of this protein in the development of a normal glomerular filtration barrier. While the precise subcellular localization of Neph1 remains unknown, its relationship with other components of the glomerular filtration barrier is of great interest in this field. In this paper, we localize the expression of Neph1 to the glomerular slit diaphragm by immunogold electron microscopy in rodents and describe its direct interaction with two other components of the slit diaphragm, nephrin and ZO-1. Both native and recombinant Neph1 associate with each other as dimers and multimers and interact with nephrin via their extracellular segments. Disruption of the Neph1-nephrin interaction in vivo by injecting combinations of individual subnephritogenic doses of anti-Neph1 and anti-nephrin results in complement- and leukocyte-independent proteinuria with preserved foot processes. This disruption modestly reduces Neph1 and nephrin protein expression in podocytes and dramatically reduces ZO-1 protein expression via the interaction of ZO-1 PDZ domains with the cytoplasmic tail of Neph1, independent of changes in mRNA expression of all three genes. The interaction between nephrin and Neph1 is specific and not shared by either protein with P-cadherin, another integral slit diaphragm protein. The interaction between nephrin and Neph1 therefore appears to be an important determinant of glomerular permeability.
Project description:Glomerular injury is often characterized by the effacement of podocytes, loss of slit diaphragms, and proteinuria. Renal ischemia or the loss of blood flow to the kidneys has been widely associated with tubular and endothelial injury but rarely has been shown to induce podocyte damage and disruption of the slit diaphragm. In this study, we have used an in vivo rat ischemic model to demonstrate that renal ischemia induces podocyte effacement with loss of slit diaphragm and proteinuria. Biochemical analysis of the ischemic glomerulus shows that ischemia induces rapid loss of interaction between slit diaphragm junctional proteins Neph1 and ZO-1. To further understand the effect of ischemia on molecular interactions between slit diaphragm proteins, a cell culture model was employed to study the binding between Neph1 and ZO-1. Under physiologic conditions, Neph1 co-localized with ZO-1 at cell-cell contacts in cultured human podocytes. Induction of injury by ATP depletion resulted in rapid loss of Neph1 and ZO-1 binding and redistribution of Neph1 and ZO-1 proteins from cell membrane to the cytoplasm. Recovery resulted in increased Neph1 tyrosine phosphorylation, restoring Neph1 and ZO-1 binding and their localization at the cell membrane. We further demonstrate that tyrosine phosphorylation of Neph1 mediated by Fyn results in significantly increased Neph1 and ZO-1 binding, suggesting a critical role for Neph1 tyrosine phosphorylation in reorganizing the Neph1-ZO-1 complex. This study documents that renal ischemia induces dynamic changes in the molecular interactions between slit diaphragm proteins, leading to podocyte damage and proteinuria.
Project description:Neph1 is present in podocytes, where it plays a critical role in maintaining the filtration function of the glomerulus, in part through signaling events mediated by its cytoplasmic domain that are involved in actin cytoskeleton organization. To understand the function of this protein, a detailed knowledge of the structure of the Neph1 cytoplasmic domain (Neph1-CD) is required. In this study, the solution structure of this domain was determined by small/wide angle x-ray scattering (SWAXS). Analysis of Neph1-CD by SWAXS suggested that this protein adopts a global shape with a radius of gyration and a maximum linear dimension of 21.3 and 70 Å, respectively. These parameters and the data from circular dichroism experiments were used to construct a structural model of this protein. The His-ZO-1-PDZ1 (first PDZ domain of zonula occludens) domain that binds Neph1-CD was also analyzed by SWAXS, to confirm that it adopts a global structure similar to its crystal structure. We used the SWAXS intensity profile, the structural model of Neph1-CD, and the crystal structure of ZO-1-PDZ1 to construct a structural model of the Neph1-CD·ZO-1-PDZ1 complex. Mapping of the intermolecular interactions suggested that in addition to the C-terminal residues Thr-His-Val, residues Lys-761 and Tyr-762 in Neph1 are also critical for stabilizing the complex. Estimated intensity values from the SWAXS data and in vivo and in vitro pull-down experiments demonstrated loss of binding to ZO-1 when these residues were individually mutated to alanines. Our findings present a structural model that provides novel insights into the molecular structure and function of Neph1-CD.
Project description:The Myo1c motor functions as a cargo transporter supporting various cellular events, including vesicular trafficking, cell migration, and stereociliary movements of hair cells. Although its partial crystal structures were recently described, the structural details of its interaction with cargo proteins remain unknown. This study presents the first structural demonstration of a cargo protein, Neph1, attached to Myo1c, providing novel insights into the role of Myo1c in intracellular movements of this critical slit diaphragm protein. Using small angle X-ray scattering studies, models of predominant solution conformation of unliganded full-length Myo1c and Myo1c bound to Neph1 were constructed. The resulting structures show an extended S-shaped Myo1c with Neph1 attached to its C-terminal tail. Importantly, binding of Neph1 did not induce a significant shape change in Myo1c, indicating this as a spontaneous process or event. Analysis of interaction surfaces led to the identification of a critical residue in Neph1 involved in binding to Myo1c. Indeed, a point mutant from this site abolished interaction between Neph1 and Myo1c when tested in the in vitro and in live-cell binding assays. Live-cell imaging, including fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, provided further support for the role of Myo1c in intracellular vesicular movement of Neph1 and its turnover at the membrane.
Project description:A high-throughput, retrovirus-mediated mutagenesis method based on gene trapping in embryonic stem cells was used to identify a novel mouse gene. The human ortholog encodes a transmembrane protein containing five extracellular immunoglobulin-like domains that is structurally related to human NEPHRIN, a protein associated with congenital nephrotic syndrome. Northern analysis revealed wide expression in humans and mice, with highest expression in kidney. Based on similarity to NEPHRIN and abundant expression in kidney, this protein was designated NEPH1 and embryonic stem cells containing the retroviral insertion in the Neph1 locus were used to generate mutant mice. Analysis of kidney RNA from Neph1(-/-) mice showed that the retroviral insertion disrupted expression of Neph1 transcripts. Neph1(-/-) pups were represented at the expected normal Mendelian ratios at 1 to 3 days of age but at only 10% of the expected frequency at 10 to 12 days after birth, suggesting an early postnatal lethality. The Neph1(-/-) animals that survived beyond the first week of life were sickly and small but without edema, and all died between 3 and 8 weeks of age. Proteinuria ranging from 300 to 2,000 mg/dl was present in all Neph1(-/-) mice. Electron microscopy demonstrated NEPH1 expression in glomerular podocytes and revealed effacement of podocyte foot processes in Neph1(-/-) mice. These findings suggest that NEPH1, like NEPHRIN, may play an important role in maintaining the structure of the filtration barrier that prevents proteins from freely entering the glomerular urinary space.
Project description:Slit diaphragms are essential components of the glomerular filtration apparatus, as changes in these junctions are the hallmark of proteinuric diseases. Slit diaphragms, considered specialized adherens junctions, contain both unique membrane proteins (e.g., nephrin, podocin, and Neph1) and typical adherens junction proteins (e.g., P-cadherin, FAT, and catenins). Whether slit diaphragms also contain tight junction proteins is unknown. Here, immunofluorescence, immunogold labeling, and cell fractionation demonstrated that rat slit diaphragms contain the tight junction proteins JAM-A (junctional adhesion molecule A), occludin, and cingulin. We found these proteins in the same protein complexes as nephrin, podocin, CD2AP, ZO-1, and Neph1 by cosedimentation, coimmunoprecipitation, and pull-down assays. PAN nephrosis increased the protein levels of JAM-A, occludin, cingulin, and ZO-1 several-fold in glomeruli and loosened their attachment to the actin cytoskeleton. These data extend current information about the molecular composition of slit diaphragms by demonstrating the presence of tight junction proteins, although slit diaphragms lack the characteristic morphologic features of tight junctions. The contribution of these proteins to the assembly of slit diaphragms and potential signaling cascades requires further investigation.
Project description:The nephron is the basic structural and functional unit of the vertebrate kidney. It is composed of a glomerulus, the site of ultrafiltration, and a renal tubule, along which the filtrate is modified. Although widely regarded as a vertebrate adaptation, 'nephron-like' features can be found in the excretory systems of many invertebrates, raising the possibility that components of the vertebrate excretory system were inherited from their invertebrate ancestors. Here we show that the insect nephrocyte has remarkable anatomical, molecular and functional similarity to the glomerular podocyte, a cell in the vertebrate kidney that forms the main size-selective barrier as blood is ultrafiltered to make urine. In particular, both cell types possess a specialized filtration diaphragm, known as the slit diaphragm in podocytes or the nephrocyte diaphragm in nephrocytes. We find that fly (Drosophila melanogaster) orthologues of the major constituents of the slit diaphragm, including nephrin, NEPH1 (also known as KIRREL), CD2AP, ZO-1 (TJP1) and podocin, are expressed in the nephrocyte and form a complex of interacting proteins that closely mirrors the vertebrate slit diaphragm complex. Furthermore, we find that the nephrocyte diaphragm is completely lost in flies lacking the orthologues of nephrin or NEPH1-a phenotype resembling loss of the slit diaphragm in the absence of either nephrin (as in human congenital nephrotic syndrome of the Finnish type, NPHS1) or NEPH1. These changes markedly impair filtration function in the nephrocyte. The similarities we describe between invertebrate nephrocytes and vertebrate podocytes provide evidence suggesting that the two cell types are evolutionarily related, and establish the nephrocyte as a simple model in which to study podocyte biology and podocyte-associated diseases.
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:The kidney filtration barrier is formed by the combination of endothelial cells, basement membrane and epithelial cells called podocytes. These specialized actin-rich cells form long and dynamic protrusions, the foot processes, which surround glomerular capillaries and are connected by specialized intercellular junctions, the slit diaphragms. Failure to maintain the filtration barrier leads to massive proteinuria and nephrosis. A number of proteins reside in the slit diaphragm, notably the transmembrane proteins Nephrin and Neph1, which are both able to act as tyrosine phosphorylated scaffolds that recruit cytoplasmic effectors to initiate downstream signaling. While association between tyrosine-phosphorylated Neph1 and the SH2/SH3 adaptor Grb2 was shown in vitro to be sufficient to induce actin polymerization, in vivo evidence supporting this finding is still lacking. To test this hypothesis, we generated two independent mouse lines bearing a podocyte-specific constitutive inactivation of the Grb2 locus. Surprisingly, we show that mice lacking Grb2 in podocytes display normal renal ultra-structure and function, thus demonstrating that Grb2 is not required for the establishment of the glomerular filtration barrier in vivo. Moreover, our data indicate that Grb2 is not required to restore podocyte function following kidney injury. Therefore, although in vitro experiments suggested that Grb2 is important for the regulation of actin dynamics, our data clearly shows that its function is not essential in podocytes in vivo, thus suggesting that Grb2 rather plays a secondary role in this process.
Project description:Vertebrate life critically depends on renal filtration and excretion of low molecular weight waste products. This process is controlled by a specialized cell-cell contact between podocyte foot processes: the slit diaphragm (SD). Using a comprehensive set of targeted KO mice of key SD molecules, we provided genetic, functional, and high-resolution ultrastructural data highlighting a concept of a flexible, dynamic, and multilayered architecture of the SD. Our data indicate that the mammalian SD is composed of NEPHRIN and NEPH1 molecules, while NEPH2 and NEPH3 do not participate in podocyte intercellular junction formation. Unexpectedly, homo- and heteromeric NEPHRIN/NEPH1 complexes are rarely observed. Instead, single NEPH1 molecules appear to form the lower part of the junction close to the glomerular basement membrane with a width of 23 nm, while single NEPHRIN molecules form an adjacent junction more apically with a width of 45 nm. In both cases, the molecules are quasiperiodically spaced 7 nm apart. These structural findings, in combination with the flexibility inherent to the repetitive Ig folds of NEPHRIN and NEPH1, indicate that the SD likely represents a highly dynamic cell-cell contact that forms an adjustable, nonclogging barrier within the renal filtration apparatus.