Different nephron tubule segments perform distinct physiological functions, collectively acting as a blood filtration unit. Dysfunction of the proximal tubule segment can lead to Fanconi renotubular syndrome (FRTS), with major symptoms such as excess excretion of water, glucose, and phosphate in the urine. It has been shown that a mutation in HNF4A is associated with FRTS in humans and that Hnf4a is expressed specifically in proximal tubules in adult rat nephrons. However, little is known about the role of Hnf4a in nephrogenesis. Here, we found that Hnf4a is expressed in both presumptive and differentiated proximal tubules in the developing mouse kidney. We show that Hnf4a is required for the formation of differentiated proximal tubules but is dispensable for the formation of presumptive proximal tubules. Furthermore, we show that loss of Hnf4a decreased the expression of proximal tubule–specific genes. Adult Hnf4a mutant mice presented with FRTS-like symptoms, including polyuria, polydipsia, glycosuria, and phosphaturia. Analysis of the adult Hnf4a mutant kidney also showed proximal tubule dysgenesis and nephrocalcinosis. Our results demonstrate the critical role of Hnf4a in proximal tubule development and provide mechanistic insight into the etiology of FRTS.
Sierra S. Marable, Eunah Chung, Mike Adam, S. Steven Potter, Joo-Seop Park