Ischemic-reperfusion injury (IRI) is a major pathogenic factor in acute kidney injury (AKI), which directly leads to the hypoxic injury of renal tubular epithelial cells (RTECs). Although emerging studies suggest repressor element 1–silencing transcription factor (REST) as a master regulator of gene repression under hypoxia, its role in AKI remains elusive. Here, we found that REST was upregulated in AKI patients, mice, and RTECs, which was positively associated with the degree of kidney injury, while renal tubule–specific knockout of Rest significantly alleviated AKI and its progression to chronic kidney disease (CKD). Subsequent mechanistic studies indicated that suppression of ferroptosis was responsible for REST-knockdown-induced amelioration of hypoxia-reoxygenation injury, during which process Cre-expressing adenovirus–mediated REST downregulation attenuated ferroptosis through upregulating glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit (GCLM) in primary RTECs. Further, REST transcriptionally repressed GCLM expression via directly binding to its promoter region. In conclusion, our findings revealed the involvement of REST, a hypoxia regulatory factor, in AKI-to-CKD transition and identified the ferroptosis-inducing effect of REST, which may serve as a promising therapeutic target for ameliorating AKI and its progression to CKD.


Shuiqin Gong, Aihong Zhang, Mengying Yao, Wang Xin, Xu Guan, Shaozong Qin, Yong Liu, Jiachuan Xiong, Ke Yang, Li Xiong, Ting He, Yinghui Huang, Jinghong Zhao


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