Wnt/β-catenin is a developmental signaling pathway that plays a crucial role in driving kidney fibrosis after injury. Activation of β-catenin is presumed to be regulated through the posttranslational protein modification. Little is known about whether β-catenin is also subjected to regulation at the posttranscriptional mRNA level. Here, we report that insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA-binding protein 3 (IGF2BP3) plays a pivotal role in regulating β-catenin. IGF2BP3 was upregulated in renal tubular epithelium of various animal models and patients with chronic kidney disease. IGF2BP3 not only was a direct downstream target of Wnt/β-catenin but also was obligatory for transducing Wnt signal. In vitro, overexpression of IGF2BP3 in kidney tubular cells induced fibrotic responses, whereas knockdown of endogenous IGF2BP3 prevented the expression of injury and fibrosis markers in tubular cells after Wnt3a stimulation. In vivo, exogenous IGF2BP3 promoted β-catenin activation and aggravated kidney fibrosis, while knockdown of IGF2BP3 ameliorated renal fibrotic lesions after obstructive injury. RNA immunoprecipitation and mRNA stability assays revealed that IGF2BP3 directly bound to β-catenin mRNA and stabilized it against degradation. Furthermore, knockdown of IGF2BP3 in tubular cells accelerated β-catenin mRNA degradation in vitro. These studies demonstrate that IGF2BP3 promotes β-catenin signaling and drives kidney fibrosis, which may be mediated through stabilizing β-catenin mRNA. Our findings uncover a previously underappreciated dimension of the complex regulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling and suggest a potential target for therapeutic intervention of fibrotic kidney diseases.


Dongyan Song, Jingyue Shang, Yinyi Long, Menghua Zhong, Li Li, Jiongcheng Chen, Yadie Xiang, Huishi Tan, Haili Zhu, Xue Hong, Fan Fan Hou, Haiyan Fu, Youhua Liu


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