Nephrin is necessary for podocyte recovery following injury in an adult mature glomerulus.
ABSTRACT: Nephrin (Nphs1) is an adhesion protein that is expressed at the podocyte intercellular junction in the glomerulus. Nphs1 mutations in humans or deletion in animal genetic models results in a developmental failure of foot process formation. A number of studies have shown decrease in expression of nephrin in various proteinuric kidney diseases as well as in animal models of glomerular disease. Decrease in nephrin expression has been suggested to precede podocyte loss and linked to the progression of kidney disease. Whether the decrease in expression of nephrin is related to loss of podocytes or lead to podocyte detachment is unclear. To answer this central question we generated an inducible model of nephrin deletion (Nphs1Tam-Cre) in order to lower nephrin expression in healthy adult mice. Following tamoxifen-induction there was a 75% decrease in nephrin expression by 14 days. The Nphs1Tam-Cre mice had normal foot process ultrastructure and intact filtration barriers up to 4-6 weeks post-induction. Despite the loss of nephrin expression, the podocyte number and density remained unchanged during the initial period. Unexpectedly, nephrin expression, albeit at low levels persisted at the slit diaphragm up to 16-20 weeks post-tamoxifen induction. The mice became progressively proteinuric with glomerular hypertrophy and scarring reminiscent of focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis at 20 weeks. Four week-old Nphs1 knockout mice subjected to protamine sulfate model of podocyte injury demonstrated failure to recover from foot process effacement following heparin sulfate. Similarly, Nphs1 knockout mice failed to recover following nephrotoxic serum (NTS) with persistence of proteinuria and foot process effacement. Our results suggest that as in development, nephrin is necessary for maintenance of a healthy glomerular filter. In contrast to the developmental phenotype, lowering nephrin expression in a mature glomerulus resulted in a slowly progressive disease that histologically resembles FSGS a disease linked closely with podocyte depletion. Podocytes with low levels of nephrin expression are both susceptible and unable to recover following perturbation. Our results suggest that decreased nephrin expression independent of podocyte loss occurring as an early event in proteinuric kidney diseases might play a role in disease progression.
Project description:The morphology of healthy podocyte foot processes is necessary for maintaining the characteristics of the kidney filtration barrier. In most forms of glomerular disease, abnormal filter barrier function results when podocytes undergo foot process spreading and retraction by remodeling their cytoskeletal architecture and intercellular junctions during a process known as effacement. The cell adhesion protein nephrin is necessary for establishing the morphology of the kidney podocyte in development by transducing from the specialized podocyte intercellular junction phosphorylation-mediated signals that regulate cytoskeletal dynamics. The present studies extend our understanding of nephrin function by showing that nephrin activation in cultured podocytes induced actin dynamics necessary for lamellipodial protrusion. This process required a PI3K-, Cas-, and Crk1/2-dependent signaling mechanism distinct from the previously described nephrin-Nck1/2 pathway necessary for assembly and polymerization of actin filaments. Our present findings also support the hypothesis that mechanisms governing lamellipodial protrusion in culture are similar to those used in vivo during foot process effacement in a subset of glomerular diseases. In mice, podocyte-specific deletion of Crk1/2 prevented foot process effacement in one model of podocyte injury and attenuated foot process effacement and associated proteinuria in a delayed fashion in a second model. In humans, focal adhesion kinase and Cas phosphorylation - markers of focal adhesion complex-mediated Crk-dependent signaling - was induced in minimal change disease and membranous nephropathy, but not focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Together, these observations suggest that activation of a Cas-Crk1/2-dependent complex is necessary for foot process effacement observed in distinct subsets of human glomerular diseases.
Project description:The kidney's vital filtration function depends on the structural integrity of the glomerulus, the proximal portion of the nephron. Within the glomerulus, the architecturally complex podocyte forms the final cellular barrier to filtration. Injury to the podocyte results in a morphological change called foot process effacement, which is a ubiquitous feature of proteinuric diseases. The exact mechanism underlying foot process effacement is not known, but recently it has been proposed that this change might reflect activation of the Rac1 GTPase. To test this hypothesis, we generated a podocyte-specific, inducible transgenic mouse line that expressed constitutively active Rac1. When the Rac1 transgene was induced, we observed a rapid onset of proteinuria with focal foot process effacement. Using superresolution imaging, we verified that the induced transgene was expressed in damaged podocytes with altered foot process morphology. This work sheds new light on the complex balance of Rho GTPase signaling that is required for proper regulation of the podocyte cytoskeleton.
Project description:TGF-?-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) is a key intermediate in signal transduction induced by TGF-? or inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-? and IL-1, which are potent inducers of podocyte injury responses that lead to proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis. Nevertheless, little is known about the physiologic and pathologic roles of TAK1 in podocytes. To examine the in vivo role of TAK1, we generated podocyte-specific Tak1 knockout mice (Nphs2-Cre(+):Tak1(fx/fx); Tak1(?/?)). Targeted deletion of Tak1 in podocytes resulted in perinatal lethality, with approximately 50% of animals dying soon after birth and 90% of animals dying within 1 week of birth. Tak1(?/?) mice developed proteinuria from P1 and exhibited delayed glomerulogenesis and reduced expression of Wilms' tumor suppressor 1 and nephrin in podocytes. Compared with Tak1(fx/fx) mice, Tak1(?/?) mice exhibited impaired formation of podocyte foot processes that caused disruption of the podocyte architecture with prominent foot process effacement. Intriguingly, Tak1(?/?) mice displayed increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor within the glomerulus and abnormally enlarged glomerular capillaries. Furthermore, 4- and 7-week-old Tak1(?/?) mice with proteinuria had increased collagen deposition in the mesangium and the adjacent tubulointerstitial area. Thus, loss of Tak1 in podocytes is associated with the development of proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis. Taken together, our data show that TAK1 regulates the expression of Wilms' tumor suppressor 1, nephrin, and vascular endothelial growth factor and that TAK1 signaling has a crucial role in podocyte differentiation and attainment of normal glomerular microvasculature during kidney development and glomerular filtration barrier homeostasis.
Project description:MAGUK Inverted 2 (MAGI-2) is a PTEN-interacting scaffold protein implicated in cancer on the basis of rare, recurrent genomic translocations and deletions in various tumors. In the renal glomerulus, MAGI-2 is exclusively expressed in podocytes, specialized cells forming part of the glomerular filter, where it interacts with the slit diaphragm protein nephrin. To further explore MAGI-2 function, we generated Magi-2-KO mice through homologous recombination by targeting an exon common to all three alternative splice variants. Magi-2 null mice presented with progressive proteinuria as early as 2 wk postnatally, which coincided with loss of nephrin expression in the glomeruli. Magi-2-null kidneys revealed diffuse podocyte foot process effacement and focal podocyte hypertrophy by 3 wk of age, as well as progressive podocyte loss. By 5.5 wk, coinciding with a near-complete loss of podocytes, Magi-2-null mice developed diffuse glomerular extracapillary epithelial cell proliferations, and died of renal failure by 3 mo of age. As confirmed by immunohistochemical analysis, the proliferative cell populations in glomerular lesions were exclusively composed of activated parietal epithelial cells (PECs). Our results reveal that MAGI-2 is required for the integrity of the kidney filter and podocyte survival. Moreover, we demonstrate that PECs can be activated to form glomerular lesions resembling a noninflammatory glomerulopathy with extensive extracapillary proliferation, sometimes resembling crescents, following rapid and severe podocyte loss.
Project description: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:Podocyte foot process effacement accompanied by actin cytoskeleton rearrangements is a cardinal feature of many progressive human proteinuric diseases.By microarray profiling of mouse glomerulus, SCHIP1 emerged as one of the most highly enriched transcripts. We detected Schip1 protein in the kidney glomerulus, specifically in podocytes foot processes. Functionally, Schip1 inactivation in zebrafish by morpholino knock-down results in foot process disorganization and podocyte loss leading to proteinuria. In cultured podocytes Schip1 localizes to cortical actin-rich regions of lamellipodia, where it forms a complex with Nherf2 and ezrin, proteins known to participate in actin remodeling stimulated by PDGF? signaling. Mechanistically, overexpression of Schip1 in vitro causes accumulation of cortical F-actin with dissolution of transversal stress fibers and promotes cell migration in response to PDGF-BB stimulation. Upon actin disassembly by latrunculin A treatment, Schip1 remains associated with the residual F-actin-containing structures, suggesting a functional connection with actin cytoskeleton possibly via its interaction partners. A similar assay with cytochalasin D points to stabilization of cortical actin cytoskeleton in Schip1 overexpressing cells by attenuation of actin depolymerisation.Schip1 is a novel glomerular protein predominantly expressed in podocytes, necessary for the zebrafish pronephros development and function. Schip1 associates with the cortical actin cytoskeleton network and modulates its dynamics in response to PDGF signaling via interaction with the Nherf2/ezrin complex. Its implication in proteinuric diseases remains to be further investigated.
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.
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:This study evaluated endothelial cells and podocytes, both being primary components of the glomerular filtration barrier, in the progression of membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) using modified scanning electron microscopy (mSEM) analysis. BXSB/MpJ-Yaa model mice exhibited autoimmune-mediated MPGN characterised by elevated serum autoantibody levels, albuminuria, renal dysfunctional parameters, and decreased glomerular endothelial fenestrations (EF) and podocyte foot process (PFP) effacement with immune cell infiltration. Similar to transmission electron microscopy, mSEM revealed a series of pathological changes in basement membrane and densities of EF and PFP in BXSB/MpJ-Yaa compared with control BXSB/MpJ at different stages. Further, immunopositive area of endothelial marker (CD34), podocyte functional molecules (Nephrin, Podocin, Synaptopodin, and Wilms' tumour 1 (WT1)), and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF A) significantly decreased in the glomerulus of BXSB/MpJ-Yaa compared with BXSB at final stage. The indices of glomerular endothelial injuries (EF density and immunopositive area of CD34 and VEGF A) and podocyte injuries (PEP density and immunopositive area of podocyte functional molecules) were also significantly correlated with each other and with indices of autoimmune disease and renal dysfunction. Thus, our results elucidated the pathological crosstalk between endothelial cells and podocytes in MPGN progression and the usefulness of mSEM for glomerular pathological analysis.
Project description:Proteinuric kidney diseases are a group of disorders with diverse pathological mechanisms associated with significant losses of protein in the urine. The glomerular filtration barrier (GFB), comprised of the three important layers, the fenestrated glomerular endothelium, the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), and the podocyte, dictates that disruption of any one of these structures should lead to proteinuric disease. Podocytes, in particular, have long been considered as the final gatekeeper of the GFB. This specialized visceral epithelial cell contains a complex framework of cytoskeletons forming foot processes and mediate important cell signaling to maintain podocyte health. In this review, we will focus on slit diaphragm proteins such as nephrin, podocin, TRPC6/5, as well as cytoskeletal proteins Rho/small GTPases and synaptopodin and their respective roles in participating in the pathogenesis of proteinuric kidney diseases. Furthermore, we will summarize the potential therapeutic options targeting the podocyte to treat this group of kidney diseases.