A spontaneous mutation termed bilateral wasting kidneys (bwk) was identified in a colony of NONcNZO recombinant inbred mice. These mice exhibit a rapid increase of urinary albumin at an early age associated with glomerulosclerosis, interstitial nephritis, and tubular atrophy. The mutation was mapped to a location on Chromosome 1 containing the Col4a3 and Col4a4 genes, for which mutations in the human orthologs cause the hereditary nephritis Alport syndrome. DNA sequencing identified a G to A mutation in the conserved GT splice donor of Col4a4 intron 30, resulting in skipping of exon 30 but maintaining the mRNA reading frame. Protein analyses showed that mutant collagen α3α4α5(IV) trimers were secreted and incorporated into the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), but levels were low, and GBM lesions typical of Alport syndrome were observed. Moving the mutation into the more renal damage-prone DBA/2J and 129S1/SvImJ backgrounds revealed differences in albuminuria and its rate of increase, suggesting an interaction between the Col4a4 mutation and modifier genes. This novel mouse model of Alport syndrome is the only one shown to accumulate abnormal collagen α3α4α5(IV) in the GBM, as also found in a subset of Alport patients. These mice will be valuable for testing potential therapies, for understanding abnormal collagen IV structure and assembly, for gaining better insights into the mechanisms leading to Alport syndrome and to the variability in the age of onset and associated phenotypes.
In multicellular organisms, proteins of the extracellular matrix (ECM) play structural and functional roles in essentially all organs, so understanding ECM protein organization in health and disease remains an important goal. Here, we used sub-diffraction resolution stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) to resolve the in situ molecular organization of proteins within the kidney glomerular basement membrane (GBM), an essential mediator of glomerular ultrafiltration. Using multichannel STORM and STORM-electron microscopy correlation, we constructed a molecular reference frame that revealed a laminar organization of ECM proteins within the GBM. Separate analyses of domains near the N- and C-termini of agrin, laminin, and collagen IV in mouse and human GBM revealed a highly oriented macromolecular organization. Our analysis also revealed disruptions in this GBM architecture in a mouse model of Alport syndrome. These results provide the first nanoscopic glimpse into the organization of a complex ECM.
The blood that flows through the body must be continually filtered to remove waste products and to ensure that it contains optimal levels of water and salts. Filtration is performed inside the kidneys by tufts of small blood vessels called glomeruli. These glomerular capillaries allow water and waste products to pass from the blood into the urine, while holding back proteins and blood cells. The wall of a glomerular capillary consists of two layers of cells flanking a third layer called the glomerular basement membrane. If any of these layers malfunctions, it becomes possible for proteins to pass into the urine. This is a clear sign of kidney disease.
The basement membrane is composed of proteins secreted by the two layers of cells, but little was known about how these proteins are organized. Now, Suleiman et al. have adapted a new form of high-resolution optical microscopy called STORM to study the structure of the glomerular basement membrane in both mouse and human kidney tissue. By combining data from STORM and electron microscopy, Suleiman et al. showed that the proteins in the glomerular basement membranes of both species are arranged similarly to form a distinctive layered structure. This suggests that the organization of the basement membrane plays a critical role in its function.
The technique was used to demonstrate that proteins were not organized in the glomerular basement membrane in tissue samples taken from mice suffering from Alport syndrome, a genetic disorder of the kidneys. In addition to suggesting that the disorganization of basement membranes may play an important role in disease, this work also provides a method for investigating the structure of the basement membrane in diverse types of tissue.
super-resolution microscopy; extracellular matrix; kidney; basement membrane; Human; Mouse
The glomerular basement membrane (GBM) is the central, non-cellular layer of the glomerular filtration barrier that is situated between the two cellular components – fenestrated endothelial cells and interdigitated podocyte foot processes. The GBM is composed primarily of four extracellular matrix macromolecules – laminin-521, type IV collagen α3α4α5, the heparan sulfate proteoglycan agrin, and nidogen – that produce an interwoven meshwork thought to impart both size- and charge-selective properties. Although the composition and biochemical nature of the GBM have been known for a long time, the functional importance of the GBM vs. podocytes and endothelial cells for establishing the glomerular filtration barrier to albumin is still debated. Together with mouse genetics studies, the discoveries of four human mutations in GBM components in two inherited kidney disorders, Alport syndrome and Pierson syndrome, support essential roles for the GBM in glomerular permselectivity. Here we explain in detail the proposed mechanisms whereby the GBM can serve as the major albumin barrier and discuss possible approaches to circumvent GBM defects associated with loss of permselectivity.
The glomerular basement membrane (GBM) is a crucial component of the kidney's filtration barrier that separates the vasculature from the urinary space. During glomerulogenesis, the GBM is formed from fusion of two distinct basement membranes, one synthesized by the glomerular epithelial cell (podocyte) and the other by the glomerular endothelial cell. The main components of the GBM are laminin-521 (α5β2γ1), collagen α3α4α5(IV), nidogen and the heparan sulfate proteoglycan, agrin. By studying mice lacking specific GBM components, we have shown that during glomerulogenesis, laminin is the only one that is required for GBM integrity and in turn, the GBM is required for completion of glomerulogenesis and glomerular vascularization. In addition, our results from laminin β2-null mice suggest that laminin-521, and thus the GBM, contribute to the establishment and maintenance of the glomerular filtration barrier to plasma albumin. In contrast, mutations that affect GBM collagen IV or agrin do not impair glomerular development or cause immediate leakage of plasma proteins. However, collagen IV mutation, which causes Alport syndrome and ESRD in humans, leads to gradual damage to the GBM that eventually leads to albuminuria and renal failure. These results highlight the importance of the GBM for establishing and maintaining a perfectly functioning, highly selective glomerular filter.
laminin; collagen IV; nephrotic syndrome; alport syndrome; podocyte; mesangial cell; glomerulogenesis
Fatty acid transport protein (FATP) 4 is one of a family of six FATPs that facilitate long- and very long-chain fatty acid uptake. Mice lacking FATP4 are born with tight, thick skin and a defective epidermal barrier; they die neonatally due to dehydration and restricted movements. Both the skin phenotype and the lethality are rescued by transgene-driven expression of FATP4 solely in suprabasal keratinocytes. Here we show that Fatp4 mutants exhibit epidermal hyperplasia resulting from an increased number of proliferating suprabasal cells. In addition, barrier formation initiates precociously but never progresses to completion. To investigate possible mechanisms whereby Fatp4 influences skin development, we identified misregulated genes in Fatp4 mutants. Remarkably, three members of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family (Ereg, Areg, and Epgn) showed increased expression that was associated with elevated epidermal activation of the EGF receptor (EGFR) and STAT3, a downstream effector of EGFR signaling. Both Tyrphostin AG1478, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and curcumin, an inhibitor of both STAT3 and EGFR, attenuated STAT3 activation/nuclear translocation, reduced skin thickening, and partially suppressed the barrier abnormalities. These data identify FATP4 activity as negatively influencing EGFR activation and the resulting STAT3 signaling during normal skin development. These findings have important implications for understanding the pathogenesis of ichthyosis prematurity syndrome, a disease recently shown to be caused by FATP4 mutations.
Epiregulin; amphiregulin; epithelial mitogen; PPAR; skin barrier; epidermal hyperplasia
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.
Background. For several decades, it has been thought that the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) provides a charge-selective barrier for glomerular filtration. However, recent evidence has presented challenges to this concept: selective removal of heparan sulfate (HS) moieties that impart a negative charge to the GBM causes little if any increase in proteinuria. Removal of agrin, the major GBM HS-proteoglycan (HSPG), from the GBM causes a profound reduction in the glomerular anionic charge without changing the excretion of a negatively charged tracer. Perlecan is another HSPG present in the GBM, as well as in the mesangium and Bowman's capsule, that could potentially contribute to a charge barrier in the absence of agrin.
Methods. Here we studied the nature of the glomerular filtration barrier to albumin in mice lacking the HS chains of perlecan either alone or in combination with podocyte-specific loss of agrin.
Results. The results show significant reductions in anionic sites within the GBM in perlecan-HS and in perlecan-HS/agrin double mutants. Podocyte and overall glomerular architecture were normal, and renal function was normal up to 15 months of age with no measurable proteinuria. Moreover, excretion of a negatively charged Ficoll tracer was unchanged as compared to control mice.
Conclusions. These findings cast further doubt upon a critical role for the GBM in charge selectivity.
charge selectivity; Ficoll; glomerular basement membrane; glomerular filtration; perlecan
Purpose of the review
The nephrology community lacks a unified view of protein sieving through the glomerular capillary wall (GCW). The GCW consists of three distinct but closely interacting layers: the fenestrated endothelium, with its glycocalyx; the podocytes, with their interdigitated foot processes and slit diaphragms; and the intervening glomerular basement membrane (GBM). Proteinuria is associated with abnormalities in any one layer, suggesting that each contributes to the glomerular filtration barrier (GFB). Proteinuria can also be induced in the context of a normal GCW. Here we review some classic studies as well as some newer concepts and present competing hypotheses about the GFB.
Two almost forgotten concepts have recently emerged. One group has challenged the exquisite selectivity of the GFB to albumin and suggested that proteinuria is the result of abnormal tubular uptake. There has also been a reemphasis on diffusion through the GBM as the driving force behind macromolecular filtration. New evidence suggests that the endothelial glycocalyx is an important charge-selective barrier.
We suggest viewing the GFB as a dynamic rather than as a rigid barrier, requiring three healthy layers and a hemodynamic steady state. Multiple challenges to studying the endothelium, the tubular handling of albumin, and the role of hemodynamic forces will require new tools, new hypotheses, and open minds.
Proteinuria; Glomerular filtration barrier; Permselectivity; Gel permeation; Podocytes
Pax3-Cre (P3Pro-Cre) transgenic mice have been used for conditional gene deletion and/or lineage tracing in derivatives of neural crest, neural tube, metanephric mesenchyme, and ureteric mesenchyme. However, the extent of its expression in skeletal muscle has not been reported. We investigated the expression of P3Pro-Cre in the skeletal muscle lineage using the R26R reporter and found an unexpected rostrocaudal gradient of expression. By X-gal staining, head, neck, forelimb, diaphragm, and most of the chest wall muscles did not show evidence of Cre expression, whereas all muscle groups posterior of the diaphragm stained blue. Intercostal muscles exhibited a rostrocaudal gradient of staining. The consistency of this expression pattern was demonstrated by using P3Pro-Cre to mutate a conditional dystroglycan allele. The result was loss of dystroglycan from caudal muscles, which exhibited the histological signs of muscle fiber injury and regeneration characteristic of muscular dystrophy. The lack of dystroglycan in regenerating myofibers suggests that the P3Pro-Cre transgene is active in satellite cells and/or in their precursors. In contrast, rostral muscles, including feeding and breathing muscles, maintained dystroglycan expression and were spared from disease. Accordingly, the mutants were viable for over a year. Its unique gradient of activity makes the P3Pro-Cre transgene a previously unappreciated yet powerful tool for manipulating gene expression in skeletal muscle and its precursors.
Pax3; Cre; Dystroglycan; Muscular dystrophy
The mammalian intestine displays two distinct patterns of mucosal organization. The small intestine contains mucosal epithelial invaginations called crypts of Lieberkühn that are continuous with evaginations into the lumen called villi. The colon also contains crypts, but its epithelial surface is lined by flat surface cuffs. The epithelial cells of both organs communicate with the underlying mesenchyme through a basement membrane that is composed of a variety of extracellular matrix proteins, including members of the laminin family. The basement membranes of the small intestine and colon contain distinct laminin subtypes; notably, the villus basement membrane is rich in laminin α5. Here we show that diminution of laminin α5 in a mouse model led to a compensatory deposition of colonic laminins that resulted in a transformation from a small intestinal to a colonic mucosal architecture. The alteration in mucosal architecture was associated with reduced levels of nuclear p27Kip1, a cell cycle regulator, and altered intestinal epithelial cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Our results suggest that laminin α5 plays a crucial role in establishing and maintaining the specific mucosal pattern of the mouse small intestine.
basement membrane; small intestine; intestinal epithelial cell; Lutheran; p27Kip1
Goodpasture disease is an autoimmune kidney disease mediated by autoAbs against NC1 monomers of α3(IV) collagen that bind to the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), usually causing rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis. We identified a novel type of human IgG4-restricted anti-GBM autoAbs associated with mild non-progressive glomerulonephritis, which specifically targeted α345NC1 hexamers but not α3NC1 monomers. The mechanisms eliciting these anti-GBM autoAbs were investigated in mouse models recapitulating this phenotype. Wild type and FcγRIIB−/− mice immunized with autologous murine GBM NC1 hexamers produced mouse IgG1-restricted autoAbs specific for α345NC1 hexamers, which bound to the GBM in vivo but did not cause glomerulonephritis. In these mice, intact collagen IV from murine GBM was not immunogenic. However, in Col4a3−/− Alport mice, both intact collagen IV and NC1 hexamers from murine GBM elicited IgG antibodies specific for α3α4α5NC1 hexamers, which were not subclass restricted. As heterologous antigen in COL4A3-humanized mice, murine GBM NC1 hexamers elicited mouse IgG1, IgG2a and IgG2b autoAbs specific for α345NC1 hexamers and induced anti-GBM Ab glomerulonephritis. These findings indicate that tolerance toward autologous intact α3α4α5(IV) collagen is established in hosts expressing this antigen, even though autoreactive B cells specific for α345NC1 hexamers are not purged from their repertoire. Proteolysis selectively breaches this tolerance by generating autoimmunogenic α3α4α5NC1 hexamers. This provides a mechanism eliciting autoAbs specific for α345NC1 hexamers, which are restricted to non-inflammatory IgG subclasses and non-nephritogenic. In Alport syndrome, lack of tolerance toward α3α4α5(IV) collagen promotes production of alloantibodies to α345NC1 hexamers, including pro-inflammatory IgG subclasses which mediate post-transplant anti-GBM nephritis.
autoimmune; autoantibody; mouse model; glomerulonephritis; glomerular basement membrane; Goodpasture disease; type IV collagen
Extracellular matrix abnormalities have been found in both human and animal models of polycystic kidney disease (PKD). We have produced a new mouse PKD model through insertion of a PGKneo cassette in an intron of the gene encoding laminin α5, a major tubular and glomerular basement membrane component important for glomerulogenesis and ureteric bud branching. Lama5neo represents a hypomorphic allele due to aberrant splicing. Lama5neo/neo mice exhibit PKD, proteinuria, and death from renal failure by 4 weeks of age. This contrasts with mice totally lacking laminin α5, which die in utero with multiple developmental defects. At 2 days of age, Lama5neo/neo mice exhibited mild proteinuria and microscopic cystic transformation. By 2 weeks, cysts were grossly apparent in cortex and medulla, involving both nephron and collecting duct segments. Tubular basement membranes appeared to form normally, and early cyst basement membranes showed normal ultrastructure but developed marked thickening as cysts enlarged. Overall, laminin α5 protein levels were severely reduced due to mRNA frameshift caused by exon skipping. This was accompanied by aberrant accumulation of laminin-332 (α3β3γ2; formerly called laminin-5) in some cysts, as also observed in human PKD. This constitutes the first evidence that a primary defect in an extracellular matrix component can cause PKD.
BM, basement membrane; E, embryonic day; GBM, glomerular BM; P, postnatal day; PKD, polycystic kidney disease; PC1, polycystin-1
Pierson syndrome is a recently defined disease usually lethal within the first postnatal months and caused by mutations in the gene encoding laminin β2 (LAMB2). The hallmarks of Pierson syndrome are congenital nephrotic syndrome accompanied by ocular abnormalities, including microcoria (small pupils), with muscular and neurological developmental defects also present. Lamb2−/− mice are a model for Pierson syndrome; they exhibit defects in the kidney glomerular barrier, in the development and organization of the neuromuscular junction, and in the retina. Lamb2−/− mice fail to thrive and die very small at 3 weeks of age, but to what extent the kidney and neuromuscular defects each contribute to this severe phenotype has been obscure, though highly relevant to understanding Pierson syndrome. To investigate this, we generated transgenic mouse lines expressing rat laminin β2 either in muscle or in glomerular epithelial cells (podocytes) and crossed them onto the Lamb2−/− background. Rat β2 was confined in skeletal muscle to synapses and myotendinous junctions, and in kidney to the glomerular basement membrane. In transgenic Lamb2−/− mice, β2 deposition only in glomeruli prevented proteinuria but did not ameliorate the severe phenotype. In contrast, β2 expression only in muscle restored synaptic architecture and led to greatly improved health, but the mice died from kidney disease at 1 month. Rescue of both glomeruli and synapses was associated with normal weight gain, fertility, and lifespan. We conclude that muscle defects in Lamb2−/− mice are responsible for the severe failure to thrive phenotype, and that renal replacement therapy alone will be an inadequate treatment for Pierson syndrome.
Restrictive dermopathy is a lethal human genetic disorder characterized by very tight, thin, easily eroded skin, rocker bottom feet, and joint contractures. This disease was recently reported to be associated with a single heterozygous mutation in ZMPSTE24 and hypothesized to be a digenic disorder (Navarro et al., Lamin A and ZMPSTE24 (FACE-1) defects cause nuclear disorganization and identify restrictive dermopathy as a lethal neonatal laminopathy. Hum Mol Genet 13:2493-2503, 2004). ZMPSTE24 encodes an enzyme necessary for the correct processing and maturation of lamin A, an intermediate filament component of the nuclear envelope. Here we present four unrelated patients with homozygous mutations in ZMPSTE24 and a fifth patient with compound heterozygous mutations in ZMPSTE24. Two of the three different mutations we found are novel, and all are single base insertions that result in mRNA frameshifts. As a consequence of the presumed lack of ZMPSTE24 activity, prelamin A, the unprocessed toxic form of lamin A, was detected in the nuclei of both cultured cells and tissue from restrictive dermopathy patients, but not in control nuclei. Abnormally aggregated lamin A/C was also observed. These results indicate that restrictive dermopathy is an autosomal recessive laminopathy caused by inactivating ZMPSTE24 mutations that result in defective processing and nuclear accumulation of prelamin A.
STE24 protein; lamin A; nuclear envelope; FATP4 protein; RD, restrictive dermopathy
Primary defects in either podocytes or the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) cause proteinuria, a fact that complicates defining the barrier to albumin. Laminin β2 (LAMB2) is a GBM component required for proper functioning of the glomerular filtration barrier. To investigate the GBM’s role in glomerular filtration, we characterized GBM and overlying podocyte architecture in relation to development and progression of proteinuria in Lamb2–/– mice, which model Pierson syndrome, a rare congenital nephrotic syndrome. We found ectopic deposition of several laminins and mislocalization of anionic sites in the GBM, which together suggest that the Lamb2–/– GBM is severely disorganized, although it is ultrastructurally intact. Importantly, albuminuria was detectable shortly after birth and preceded podocyte foot process effacement and loss of slit diaphragms by at least 7 days. Expression and localization of slit diaphragm and foot process–associated proteins appeared normal at early stages. GBM permeability to the electron-dense tracer ferritin was dramatically elevated in Lamb2–/– mice, even before widespread foot process effacement. Increased ferritin permeability was not observed in nephrotic CD2-associated protein–null (Cd2ap–/–) mice, which have a primary podocyte defect. Together these data show that the GBM serves as a barrier to protein in vivo and that the glomerular slit diaphragm alone is not sufficient to prevent the passage of albumin into the urinary space.
The glomerular basement membrane (GBM) is lined by fenestrated endothelium from the capillary-lumen side and by interdigitating foot processes of the podocytes from the urinary-space side. These three layers of the glomerular capillary wall constitute the functional unit of the glomerular filtration barrier. The GBM is assembled through an interweaving of type IV collagen with laminins, nidogen, and sulfated proteoglycans. Mutations in genes encoding LAMB2, COL4A3, COL4A4, and COL4A5 cause glomerular disease in humans as well as in mice. In addition, laminin α5 mutation in podocytes leads to proteinuria and renal failure in mice. Moreover, more neoepitopes in Goodpasture’s disease and for the first time alloepitopes in Alport post-transplantation nephritis have been located in the collagen α5(IV) NC1 domain. These discoveries underscore the importance of the GBM in establishing and maintaining the integrity of the glomerular filtration barrier.
In developing glomeruli, laminin α5 replaces laminin α1 in the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) at the capillary loop stage, a transition required for glomerulogenesis. To investigate domain-specific functions of laminin α5 during glomerulogenesis, we produced transgenic mice that express a chimeric laminin composed of laminin α5 domains VI through I fused to the human laminin α1 globular (G) domain, designated Mr51. Transgene-derived protein accumulated in many basement membranes, including the developing GBM. When bred onto the Lama5 −/− background, Mr51 supported GBM formation, preventing the breakdown that normally occurs in Lama5 −/− glomeruli. In addition, podocytes exhibited their typical arrangement in a single cell layer epithelium adjacent to the GBM, but convolution of glomerular capillaries did not occur. Instead, capillaries were distended and exhibited a ballooned appearance, a phenotype similar to that observed in the total absence of mesangial cells. However, here the phenotype could be attributed to the lack of mesangial cell adhesion to the GBM, suggesting that the G domain of laminin α5 is essential for this adhesion. Analysis of an additional chimeric transgene allowed us to narrow the region of the α5 G domain essential for mesangial cell adhesion to α5LG3-5. Finally, in vitro studies showed that integrin α3β1 and the Lutheran glycoprotein mediate adhesion of mesangial cells to laminin α5. Our results elucidate a mechanism whereby mesangial cells organize the glomerular capillaries by adhering to the G domain of laminin α5 in the GBM.
mesangium; cell adhesion; kidney glomerulus; integrin α3β1; transgenic mice
While Rhodopsin is essential for sensing light for vision, it also mediates light-induced apoptosis of photoreceptors in mouse. RPE65, which catalyzes isomerization of all-trans retinyl fatty acid esters to 11-cis retinol (11cROL) in the visual cycle, controls the rhodopsin regeneration rate and photoreceptor susceptibility to light-induced degeneration. Mutations in RPE65 have been linked to blindness in affected children. Despite such importance, the mechanism that regulates RPE65 function remains unclear. Through unbiased expression screening of a bovine retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cDNA library, we have identified elongation of very long-chain fatty acids-like 1 (ELOVL1) and fatty acid transport protein 4 (FATP4), which each have very long-chain fatty acid acyl-CoA synthetase (VLCFA-ACS) activity, as negative regulators of RPE65. We found that the VLCFA derivative lignoceroyl (C24:0)-CoA inhibited synthesis of 11cROL, whereas palmitoyl (C16:0)-CoA promoted synthesis of 11cROL. We further found that competition of FATP4 with RPE65 for the substrate of RPE65 was also involved in the mechanisms by which FATP4 inhibits synthesis of 11cROL. FATP4 was predominantly expressed in RPE, and the FATP4-deficient RPE showed significantly higher isomerase activity. Consistent with these results, the regeneration rate of 11-cis retinaldehyde and the recovery rate for rod light sensitivity were faster in FATP4-deficient mice than wild-type mice. Moreover, FATP4-deficient mice displayed increased accumulation of the cytotoxic all-trans retinaldehyde and hyper susceptibility to light-induced photoreceptor degeneration. Our findings demonstrate that ELOVL1, FATP4, and their products comprise the regulatory elements of RPE65 and play important roles in protecting photoreceptors from degeneration induced by light damage.
LMX1B encodes a LIM-homeodomain transcription factor. Mutations in LMX1B cause nail-patella syndrome (NPS), an autosomal dominant disease with skeletal abnormalities, nail hypoplasia, and nephropathy. Expression of glomerular basement membrane (GBM) collagens is reduced in Lmx1b–/– mice, suggesting one basis for NPS nephropathy. Here, we show that Lmx1b–/– podocytes have reduced numbers of foot processes, are dysplastic, and lack typical slit diaphragms, indicating an arrest in development. Using antibodies to podocyte proteins important for podocyte function, we found that Lmx1b–/– podocytes express near-normal levels of nephrin, synaptopodin, ZO-1, α3 integrin, and GBM laminins. However, mRNA and protein levels for CD2AP and podocin were greatly reduced, suggesting a cooperative role for these molecules in foot process and slit diaphragm formation. We identified several LMX1B binding sites in the putative regulatory regions of both CD2AP and NPHS2 (podocin) and demonstrated that LMX1B binds to these sequences in vitro and can activate transcription through them in cotransfection assays. Thus, LMX1B regulates the expression of multiple podocyte genes critical for podocyte differentiation and function. Our results indicate that reduced levels of proteins associated with foot processes and the glomerular slit diaphragm likely contribute, along with reduced levels of GBM collagens, to the nephropathy associated with NPS.
Mutant mice lacking the integrin α8 subunit exhibit variable defects in kidney development with most mutants missing both kidneys. Several lines of evidence indicate that the known extracellular matrix ligands for integrin α8β1 are either dispensable for or not involved in α8β1 signaling during kidney development. This suggests the presence of an unknown ligand. A novel α8β1 ligand, nephronectin, has now been identified. Nephronectin is a new extracellular matrix protein associated with the Wolffian duct and the ureteric bud, epithelial structures with well-defined roles in kidney development.
Although the normal glomerulus comprises four resident cell types, least is known about the parietal epithelial cells (PECs). This comprehensive review addresses the cellular origin of PECs, discusses the normal structure and protein makeup of PECs, describes PEC function, and defines the responses to injury in disease and how these events lead to clinical events. The data show that PECs have unique properties and that new functions are being recognized such as their role in differentiating into podocytes during disease.
albuminuria; glomerulus; parietal epithelial cells; podocytes
Laminins are the major noncollagenous glycoproteins of all basal laminae (BLs). They are α/β/γ heterotrimers assembled from 10 known chains, and they subserve both structural and signaling roles. Previously described mutations in laminin chain genes result in diverse disorders that are manifested postnatally and therefore provide little insight into laminin's roles in embryonic development. Here, we show that the laminin α5 chain is required during embryogenesis. The α5 chain is present in virtually all BLs of early somite stage embryos and then becomes restricted to specific BLs as development proceeds, including those of the surface ectoderm and placental vasculature. BLs that lose α5 retain or acquire other α chains. Embryos lacking laminin α5 die late in embryogenesis. They exhibit multiple developmental defects, including failure of anterior neural tube closure (exencephaly), failure of digit septation (syndactyly), and dysmorphogenesis of the placental labyrinth. These defects are all attributable to defects in BLs that are α5 positive in controls and that appear ultrastructurally abnormal in its absence. Other laminin α chains accumulate in these BLs, but this compensation is apparently functionally inadequate. Our results identify new roles for laminins and BLs in diverse developmental processes.
basement membrane; development; placenta; knockout mice; limb deformities
The kidney’s glomerular filtration barrier consists of two cells—podocytes and endothelial cells—and the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), a specialized extracellular matrix that lies between them. Like all basement membranes, the GBM consists mainly of laminin, type IV collagen, nidogen, and heparan sulfate proteoglycan. However, the GBM is unusually thick and contains particular members of these general protein families, including laminin-521, collagen α3α4α5(IV), and agrin. Knockout studies in mice and genetic findings in humans shows that the laminin and type IV collagen components are particularly important for GBM structure and function, as laminin or collagen IV gene mutations cause filtration defects and renal disease of varying severities, depending on the nature of the mutations. These studies suggest that the GBM plays a crucial role in establishing and maintaining the glomerular filtration barrier.
laminin; collagen IV; Alport syndrome; Pierson syndrome