The architectural integrity of tissues requires complex interactions, both between cells and between cells and the extracellular matrix. Fundamental to cell and tissue homeostasis are the specific mechanical forces conveyed by the actomyosin cytoskeleton. Here we used super-resolution imaging methods to visualize the actin cytoskeleton in the kidney glomerulus, an organized collection of capillaries that filters the blood to make the primary urine. Our analysis of both mouse and human glomeruli reveals a network of myosin IIA–containing contractile actin cables within podocyte cell bodies and major processes at the outer aspects of the glomerular tuft. These likely exert force on an underlying network of myosin IIA–negative, noncontractile actin fibers present within podocyte foot processes that function to both anchor the cells to the glomerular basement membrane and stabilize the slit diaphragm against the pressure of fluid flow. After injuries that disrupt the kidney filtration barrier and cause foot process effacement, the podocyte’s contractile actomyosin network relocates to the basolateral surface of the cell, manifesting as sarcomere-like structures juxtaposed to the basement membrane. Our findings suggest a new model of the podocyte actin cytoskeleton in health and disease and suggest the existence of novel mechanisms that regulate podocyte architecture.
Hani Y. Suleiman, Robyn Roth, Sanjay Jain, John E. Heuser, Andrey S. Shaw, Jeffrey H. Miner
APOL1 variants in African populations mediate resistance to trypanosomal infection but increase risk for kidney diseases through unknown mechanisms. APOL1 is expressed in glomerular podocytes and does not vary with underlying kidney disease diagnoses or APOL1 genotypes, suggesting that the kidney disease–associated variants dysregulate its function rather than its localization or abundance. Structural homology searches identified vesicle-associated membrane protein 8 (VAMP8) as an APOL1 protein interactor. VAMP8 colocalizes with APOL1 in the podocyte, and the APOL1:VAMP8 interaction was confirmed biochemically and with surface plasmon resonance. APOL1 variants attenuate this interaction. Computational modeling of APOL1’s 3-dimensional structure, followed by molecular dynamics simulations, revealed increased motion of the C-terminal domain of reference APOL1 compared with either variant, suggesting that the variants stabilize a closed or autoinhibited state that diminishes protein interactions with VAMP8. Changes in ellipticity with increasing urea concentrations, as assessed by circular dichroism spectroscopy, showed higher conformational stability of the C-terminal helix of the variants compared with the reference protein. These results suggest that reference APOL1 interacts with VAMP8-coated vesicles, a process attenuated by variant-induced reduction in local dynamics of the C-terminal. Disordered vesicular trafficking in the podocyte may cause injury and progressive chronic kidney diseases in susceptible African Americans subjects.
Sethu M. Madhavan, John F. O’Toole, Martha Konieczkowski, Laura Barisoni, David B. Thomas, Santhi Ganesan, Leslie A. Bruggeman, Matthias Buck, John R. Sedor
Inherited and acquired mitochondrial defects have been associated with podocyte dysfunction and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator-1α (PGC1α) is one of the main transcriptional regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis and function. We hypothesized that increasing PGC1α expression in podocytes could protect from CKD. We found that PGC1α and mitochondrial transcript levels are lower in podocytes of patients and mouse models with diabetic kidney disease (DKD). To increase PGC1α expression, podocyte-specific inducible PGC1α-transgenic mice were generated by crossing nephrin-rtTA mice with tetO-Ppargc1a animals. Transgene induction resulted in albuminuria and glomerulosclerosis in a dose-dependent manner. Expression of PGC1α in podocytes increased mitochondrial biogenesis and maximal respiratory capacity. PGC1α also shifted podocytes towards fatty acid usage from their baseline glucose preference. RNA sequencing analysis indicated that PGC1α induced podocyte proliferation. Histological lesions of mice with podocyte-specific PGC1α expression resembled collapsing focal segmental glomerular sclerosis. In conclusion, decreased podocyte PGC1α expression and mitochondrial content is a consistent feature of DKD, but excessive PGC1α alters mitochondrial properties and induces podocyte proliferation and dedifferentiation, indicating that there is likely a narrow therapeutic window for PGC1α levels in podocytes.
Szu-Yuan Li, Jihwan Park, Chengxiang Qiu, Seung Hyeok Han, Matthew B. Palmer, Zoltan Arany, Katalin Susztak
Conventional histologic diagnosis of rejection in kidney transplants has limited repeatability due to its inherent requirement for subjective assessment of lesions, in a rule-based system that does not acknowledge diagnostic uncertainty. Molecular phenotyping affords opportunities for increased precision and improved disease classification to address the limitations of conventional histologic diagnostic systems and quantify levels of uncertainty. Microarray data from 1,208 kidney transplant biopsies were collected prospectively from 13 centers. Cross-validated classifier scores predicting the presence of antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR), T cell–mediated rejection (TCMR), and 5 related histologic lesions were generated using supervised machine learning methods. These scores were used as input for archetypal analysis, an unsupervised method similar to cluster analysis, to examine the distribution of molecular phenotypes related to rejection. Six archetypes were generated: no rejection, TCMR, 3 associated with ABMR (early-stage, fully developed, and late-stage), and mixed rejection (TCMR plus early-stage ABMR). Each biopsy was assigned 6 scores, one for each archetype, representing a probabilistic assessment of that biopsy based on its rejection-related molecular properties. Viewed as clusters, the archetypes were similar to existing histologic Banff categories, but there was 32% disagreement, much of it probably reflecting the “noise” in the current histologic assessment system. Graft survival was lowest for fully developed and late-stage ABMR, and it was better predicted by molecular archetype scores than histologic diagnoses. The results provide a system for precision molecular assessment of biopsies and a new standard for recalibrating conventional diagnostic systems.
Jeff Reeve, Georg A. Böhmig, Farsad Eskandary, Gunilla Einecke, Carmen Lefaucheur, Alexandre Loupy, Philip F. Halloran, the MMDx-Kidney study group
During renal branching morphogenesis, ureteric bud tip cells (UBTC) serve as the progenitor epithelium for all cell types of the collecting duct. While the transcriptional circuitry of ureteric bud (UB) branching has been intensively studied, the transcriptional control of UBTC differentiation has been difficult to ascertain. This is partly due to limited knowledge of UBTC-specific transcription factors that mark the progenitor state. Here, we identify the transcription factor p63 (also known as TP63), a master regulator of basal stem cells in stratified epithelia, as a specific marker of mouse and human UBTC. Nuclear p63 marks Ret+ UBTC transiently and is silenced by the end of nephrogenesis. Lineage tracing revealed that a subset of UBTC expressing the ΔNp63 isoform (N-terminus truncated p63) is dedicated to generating cortical intercalated cells. Germline targeting of
Samir S. El-Dahr, Yuwen Li, Jiao Liu, Elleny Gutierrez, Kathleen S. Hering-Smith, Sabina Signoretti, Jean-Christophe Pignon, Satrajit Sinha, Zubaida Saifudeen
Lupus nephritis is a leading cause of mortality among systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, and its heterogeneous nature poses a significant challenge to the development of effective diagnostics and treatments. Single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) offers a potential solution to dissect the heterogeneity of the disease and enables the study of similar cell types distant from the site of renal injury to identify novel biomarkers. We applied scRNA-seq to human renal and skin biopsy tissues and demonstrated that scRNA-seq can be performed on samples obtained during routine care. Chronicity index, IgG deposition, and quantity of proteinuria correlated with a transcriptomic-based score composed of IFN-inducible genes in renal tubular cells. Furthermore, analysis of cumulative expression profiles of single cell keratinocytes dissociated from nonlesional, non–sun-exposed skin of patients with lupus nephritis also revealed upregulation of IFN-inducible genes compared with keratinocytes isolated from healthy controls. This indicates the possible use of scRNA-seq analysis of skin biopsies as a biomarker of renal disease. These data support the potential utility of scRNA-seq to provide new insights into the pathogenesis of lupus nephritis and pave the way for exploiting a readily accessible tissue to reflect injury in the kidney.
Evan Der, Saritha Ranabothu, Hemant Suryawanshi, Kemal M. Akat, Robert Clancy, Pavel Morozov, Manjunath Kustagi, Mareike Czuppa, Peter Izmirly, H. Michael Belmont, Tao Wang, Nicole Jordan, Nicole Bornkamp, Janet Nwaukoni, July Martinez, Beatrice Goilav, Jill P. Buyon, Thomas Tuschl, Chaim Putterman
Secreted modular calcium-binding protein 2 (SMOC2) belongs to the secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) family of matricellular proteins whose members are known to modulate cell-matrix interactions. We report that SMOC2 is upregulated in the kidney tubular epithelial cells of mice and humans following fibrosis. Using genetically manipulated mice with SMOC2 overexpression or knockdown, we show that SMOC2 is critically involved in the progression of kidney fibrosis. Mechanistically, we found that SMOC2 activates a fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition (FMT) to stimulate stress fiber formation, proliferation, migration, and extracellular matrix production. Furthermore, we demonstrate that targeting SMOC2 by siRNA results in attenuation of TGFβ1-mediated FMT in vitro and an amelioration of kidney fibrosis in mice. These findings implicate that SMOC2 is a key signaling molecule in the pathological secretome of a damaged kidney and targeting SMOC2 offers a therapeutic strategy for inhibiting FMT-mediated kidney fibrosis — an unmet medical need.
Casimiro Gerarduzzi, Ramya K. Kumar, Priyanka Trivedi, Amrendra K. Ajay, Ashwin Iyer, Sarah Boswell, John N. Hutchinson, Sushrut S. Waikar, Vishal S. Vaidya
The renal collecting duct (CD), as the terminal segment of the nephron, is responsible for the final adjustments to the amount of sodium excreted in urine. While angiotensin II modulates reabsorptive functions of the CD, the contribution of these actions to physiological homeostasis is not clear. To examine this question, we generated mice with cell-specific deletion of AT1A receptors from the CD. Elimination of AT1A receptors from both principal and intercalated cells (CDKO mice) had no effect on blood pressures at baseline or during successive feeding of low- or high-salt diets. In contrast, the severity of hypertension caused by chronic infusion of angiotensin II was paradoxically exaggerated in CDKO mice compared with controls. In wild-type mice, angiotensin II induced robust expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in renal medulla, primarily localized to intercalated cells. Upregulation of COX-2 was diminished in CDKO mice, resulting in reduced generation of vasodilator prostanoids. This impaired expression of COX-2 has physiological consequences, since administration of a specific COX-2 inhibitor to CDKO and control mice during angiotensin II infusion equalized their blood pressures. Stimulation of COX-2 was also triggered by exposure of isolated preparations of medullary CDs to angiotensin II. Deletion of AT1A receptors from principal cells alone did not affect angiotensin II–dependent COX2 stimulation, implicating intercalated cells as the main source of COX2 in this setting. These findings suggest a novel paracrine role for the intercalated cell to attenuate the severity of hypertension. Strategies for preserving or augmenting this pathway may have value for improving the management of hypertension.
Johannes Stegbauer, Daian Chen, Marcela Herrera, Matthew A. Sparks, Ting Yang, Eva Königshausen, Susan B. Gurley, Thomas M. Coffman
The neonatal mouse kidney retains nephron progenitor cells in a nephrogenic zone for 3 days after birth. We evaluated whether de novo nephrogenesis can be induced postnatally beyond 3 days. Given the long-term implications of nephron number for kidney health, it would be useful to enhance nephrogenesis in the neonate. We induced nephron reduction by cryoinjury with or without contralateral nephrectomy during the neonatal period or after 1 week of age. There was no detectable compensatory de novo nephrogenesis, as determined by glomerular counting and lineage tracing. Contralateral nephrectomy resulted in additional adaptive healing, with little or no fibrosis, but did not also stimulate de novo nephrogenesis. In contrast, injury initiated at 1 week of age led to healing with fibrosis. Thus, despite the presence of progenitor cells and ongoing nephron maturation in the newborn mouse kidney, de novo nephrogenesis is not inducible by acute nephron reduction. This indicates that additional nephron progenitors cannot be recruited after birth despite partial renal ablation providing a reparative stimulus and suggests that nephron number in the mouse is predetermined at birth.
Florian Tögel, M. Todd Valerius, Benjamin S. Freedman, Rossella Latrino, Mor Grinstein, Joseph V. Bonventre
Craig Balmforth, Job J.M.H. van Bragt, Titia Ruijs, James R. Cameron, Robert Kimmitt, Rebecca Moorhouse, Alicja Czopek, May Khei Hu, Peter J. Gallacher, James W. Dear, Shyamanga Borooah, Iain M. MacIntyre, Tom M.C. Pearson, Laura Willox, Dinesh Talwar, Muriel Tafflet, Christophe Roubeix, Florian Sennlaub, Siddharthan Chandran, Baljean Dhillon, David J. Webb, Neeraj Dhaun
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