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1.  Lipotoxic disruption of NHE1 interaction with PI(4,5)P2 expedites proximal tubule apoptosis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(3):1057-1068.
Chronic kidney disease progression can be predicted based on the degree of tubular atrophy, which is the result of proximal tubule apoptosis. The Na+/H+ exchanger NHE1 regulates proximal tubule cell survival through interaction with phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2], but pathophysiologic triggers for NHE1 inactivation are unknown. Because glomerular injury permits proximal tubule luminal exposure and reabsorption of fatty acid/albumin complexes, we hypothesized that accumulation of amphipathic, long-chain acyl-CoA (LC-CoA) metabolites stimulates lipoapoptosis by competing with the structurally similar PI(4,5)P2 for NHE1 binding. Kidneys from mouse models of progressive, albuminuric kidney disease exhibited increased fatty acids, LC-CoAs, and caspase-2–dependent proximal tubule lipoapoptosis. LC-CoAs and the cytosolic domain of NHE1 directly interacted, with an affinity comparable to that of the PI(4,5)P2-NHE1 interaction, and competing LC-CoAs disrupted binding of the NHE1 cytosolic tail to PI(4,5)P2. Inhibition of LC-CoA catabolism reduced NHE1 activity and enhanced apoptosis, whereas inhibition of proximal tubule LC-CoA generation preserved NHE1 activity and protected against apoptosis. Our data indicate that albuminuria/lipiduria enhances lipotoxin delivery to the proximal tubule and accumulation of LC-CoAs contributes to tubular atrophy by severing the NHE1-PI(4,5)P2 interaction, thereby lowering the apoptotic threshold. Furthermore, these data suggest that NHE1 functions as a metabolic sensor for lipotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC3934167  PMID: 24531551
2.  NPHS2 Variation in Sporadic Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis 
Mutations in NPHS2, the gene that encodes podocin, are well-established causes of both familial and sporadic steroid-resistant focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in the pediatric population, but have not been well-characterized in late-onset disease. To investigate the role of NPHS2 polymorphisms in sporadic cases of late-onset FSGS, we studied 377 biopsy-confirmed FSGS cases and 919 controls. We identified 18 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) by resequencing a subgroup of cases and controls, and subsequently genotyped African-American and European-American cases and controls for five missense SNPs, three SNPs within introns, and four SNPs in the 3′ untranslated region. No homozygotes or compound heterozygotes were observed for any missense mutation. R138Q carriers were more frequent among FSGS cases relative to controls (OR = 4.9, P = 0.06), but heterozygosity for the other four missense mutations was equally distributed among FSGS cases and controls. Finally, a common haplotype of noncoding SNPs carried by 20% of African-Americans, but not observed in European-Americans, was strongly associated with a 50% reduction in risk for sporadic FSGS (OR = 0.5, P = 0.001). These results indicate that genetic variation or mutation of NPHS2 may play a role in late-onset sporadic FSGS.
PMCID: PMC4096868  PMID: 17942957
3.  Tissue transglutaminase inhibition as treatment for diabetic glomerular scarring: it's good to be glueless 
Kidney international  2009;76(4):363-365.
Diabetic nephropathy is characterized by enhanced glomerular and tubulointerstitial deposition of extracellular matrix proteins, which are bound together by tissue transglutaminase (TG2). Huang et al. demonstrate that infusion of a novel TG2 inhibitor in diabetic rats prevented renal scarring and albuminuria and preserved glomerular filtration rate. These studies confirm the role of TG2 in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy and add to an emerging literature that demonstrates that TG2 is an attractive therapeutic target for sclerosing kidney diseases.
PMCID: PMC3580154  PMID: 19644479
4.  Albuminuria Risk in Hispanic Populations: Not So Black and White 
PMCID: PMC3555405  PMID: 20551417
albuminuria genetics; genetic polymorphisms; genotype; population differentiation; single nucleotide polymorphism epidemiology
5.  Diabetes, lower extremity amputation, loss of protective sensation, and NOS1AP in the CRIC study 
Lower extremity amputation (LEA) is a life-altering complication of diabetes. The goal of our study was to investigate the possibility that genetic variation in neuronal nitric oxide synthase associated protein (NOS1AP) is associated with LEA and diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Our work used data from the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) study. CRIC is a multicenter investigation undertaken to pursue the relationship between chronic renal insufficiency and cardiovascular disease. We evaluated 3,040 CRIC study subjects, 1,490 individuals were African-Americans and 1,550 were whites. LEA occurred in 162 (5.3%) subjects, 93 (6.2%) of African-Americans and 69 (4.4%) of whites. In whites, NOS1AP SNP rs1963645 was most strongly associated with LEA (1.73 (1.23, 2.44)). In African-Americans three NOS1AP SNPs were associated with LEA: rs6659759 (1.65 (1.21, 2.24)); rs16849113 (1.58 (1.16, 2.14)); rs880296 (1.54 (1.14, 2.10)). We tested a subset of 100 CRIC participants for DPN using Simmes-Weinstein filaments. DPN in those with diabetes was associated with rs1963645 (16.97 (2.38, 120.97)) in whites and rs16849113 and rs6659759 (3.62 (1.11, 11.83) and 3.02 (0.82, 11.12) respectively) in African-Americans. In conclusion, this is one of the first studies to show that NOS1AP gene variants are associated with DPN and LEA.
PMCID: PMC3667959  PMID: 23228162
6.  A Genome-Wide Search for Linkage of Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) in the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81888.
Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a measure of kidney function, is heritable, suggesting that genes influence renal function. Genes that influence eGFR have been identified through genome-wide association studies. However, family-based linkage approaches may identify loci that explain a larger proportion of the heritability. This study used genome-wide linkage and association scans to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) that influence eGFR.
Genome-wide linkage and sparse association scans of eGFR were performed in families ascertained by probands with advanced diabetic nephropathy (DN) from the multi-ethnic Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) study. This study included 954 African Americans (AA), 781 American Indians (AI), 614 European Americans (EA) and 1,611 Mexican Americans (MA). A total of 3,960 FIND participants were genotyped for 6,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using the Illumina Linkage IVb panel. GFR was estimated by the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) formula.
The non-parametric linkage analysis, accounting for the effects of diabetes duration and BMI, identified the strongest evidence for linkage of eGFR on chromosome 20q11 (log of the odds [LOD] = 3.34; P = 4.4×10−5) in MA and chromosome 15q12 (LOD = 2.84; P = 1.5×10−4) in EA. In all subjects, the strongest linkage signal for eGFR was detected on chromosome 10p12 (P = 5.5×10−4) at 44 cM near marker rs1339048. A subsequent association scan in both ancestry-specific groups and the entire population identified several SNPs significantly associated with eGFR across the genome.
The present study describes the localization of QTL influencing eGFR on 20q11 in MA, 15q21 in EA and 10p12 in the combined ethnic groups participating in the FIND study. Identification of causal genes/variants influencing eGFR, within these linkage and association loci, will open new avenues for functional analyses and development of novel diagnostic markers for DN.
PMCID: PMC3866106  PMID: 24358131
7.  Diabetic nephropathy in a sibling and albuminuria predict early GFR decline: a prospective cohort study 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:124.
Diabetic nephropathy is a growing clinical problem, and the cause for >40% of incident ESRD cases. Unfortunately, few modifiable risk factors are known. The objective is to examine if albuminuria and history of diabetic nephropathy (DN) in a sibling are associated with early DN progression or mortality.
In this longitudinal study of adults >18 yrs with diabetes monitored for up to 9 yrs (mean 4.6 ± 1.7 yrs), 435 subjects at high risk (DN family history) and 400 at low risk (diabetes >10 yrs, normoalbuminuria, no DN family history) for DN progression were evaluated for rate of eGFR change using the linear mixed effects model and progression to ESRD. All-cause mortality was evaluated by Kaplan-Meier analyses while controlling for baseline covariates in a Cox proportional hazards model. Covariates included baseline eGFR, age, gender, race, diabetes duration, blood pressure, hemoglobin A1c and urine albumin:creatinine ratio. Propensity score matching was used to identify high and low risk group pairs with balanced covariates. Sensitivity analyses were employed to test for residual confounding.
Mean baseline eGFR was 74 ml/min/1.73 m2 (86% of cohort >60 ml/min/1.73 m2). Thirty high risk and no low risk subjects developed ESRD. eGFR decline was significantly greater in high compared to low risk subjects. After controlling for confounders, change in eGFR remained significantly different between groups, suggesting that DN family history independently regulates GFR progression. Mortality was also significantly greater in high versus low risk subjects, but after controlling for baseline covariates, no significant difference was observed between groups, indicating that factors other than DN family history more strongly affect mortality. Analyses of the matched pairs confirmed change in eGFR and mortality findings. Sensitivity analyses demonstrated that the eGFR results were not due to residual confounding by unmeasured covariates of a moderate effect size in the propensity matching.
Diabetic subjects with albuminuria and family history of DN are vulnerable for early GFR decline, whereas subjects with diabetes for longer than 10 years, normoalbuminuria and negative family history, experience slower eGFR decline, and are extremely unlikely to require dialysis. Although we would not recommend that patients with low risk characteristics be neglected, scarce resources would be more sensibly devoted to vulnerable patients, such as the high risk cases in our study, and preferably prior to the onset of albuminuria or GFR decline.
PMCID: PMC3703258  PMID: 23773264
Albuminuria; CKD; Diabetes; ESRD; Genetics; Progression; Proteinuria
8.  Use of Diffusion Tensor MRI to Identify Early Changes in Diabetic Nephropathy 
American Journal of Nephrology  2011;34(5):476-482.
Currently available clinical indicators of kidney disease lack the sensitivity and/or specificity to identify early-stage diabetic nephropathy (DN). Quantitative diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), specifically diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), has been used to quantify pathophysiologic changes in other organs but has not been well studied in kidney diseases, including DN. The goal of this pilot study was to examine differences in kidney DTI parameters in diabetic subjects versus healthy controls.
16 diabetic and 5 healthy control subjects were recruited for this institutional review board-approved/Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant study. Kidneys were scanned using DTI to generate apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA) data. Mean cortical and medullary ADC and FA values were calculated by selecting multiple regions of interest. Diabetics were stratified by estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) into 2 groups: eGFR ≥60 (n = 10) and eGFR <60 (n = 6) ml/min/1.73 m2. Mean diffusion parameters and eGFRs were compared between these groups of diabetic subjects and healthy controls.
Medullary FA, ADC and cortical ADC values were significantly lower in diabetics with eGFR <60 compared to controls. Notably, both mean medullary FA and ADC were significantly lower in diabetics with eGFR ≥60 compared to controls (p = 0.001 and p = 0.042, respectively). For the study subjects in aggregate, medullary FA correlated significantly with eGFR (R = 0.69, p < 0.01); the other diffusion parameters showed no significant correlations.
This pilot study suggests that changes in medullary DTI assessments may serve as indicators of early DN. Further studies are needed to determine if these findings could serve as biomarkers to identify diabetics at risk of DN progression.
PMCID: PMC3214881  PMID: 22024476
Diabetic nephropathy; Chronic kidney disease; Magnetic resonance imaging; Diffusion parameters; Diffusion tensor imaging
9.  Genomewide Linkage Scan for Diabetic Renal Failure and Albuminuria: The FIND Study 
American Journal of Nephrology  2011;33(5):381-389.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The multicenter FIND consortium aims to identify genes for DN and its associated quantitative traits, e.g. the urine albumin:creatinine ratio (ACR). Herein, the results of whole-genome linkage analysis and a sparse association scan for ACR and a dichotomous DN phenotype are reported in diabetic individuals.
A genomewide scan comprising more than 5,500 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphism markers (average spacing of 0.6 cM) was performed on 1,235 nuclear and extended pedigrees (3,972 diabetic participants) ascertained for DN from African-American (AA), American-Indian (AI), European-American (EA) and Mexican-American (MA) populations.
Strong evidence for linkage to DN was detected on chromosome 6p (p = 8.0 × 10−5, LOD = 3.09) in EA families as well as suggestive evidence for linkage to chromosome 7p in AI families. Regions on chromosomes 3p in AA, 7q in EA, 16q in AA and 22q in MA displayed suggestive evidence of linkage for urine ACR. The linkage peak on chromosome 22q overlaps the MYH9/APOL1 gene region, previously implicated in AA diabetic and nondiabetic nephropathies.
These results strengthen the evidence for previously identified genomic regions and implicate several novel loci potentially involved in the pathogenesis of DN.
PMCID: PMC3078269  PMID: 21454968
Albuminuria; Diabetes mellitus; Renal failure; End-stage renal disease; Linkage; Allelic association
10.  Genome-wide linkage scans for type 2 diabetes mellitus in four ethnically diverse populations; significant evidence for linkage on chromosome 4q in African Americans: the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) Research Group 
Previous studies have shown that, in addition to environmental influences, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has a strong genetic component. The goal of the current study is to identify regions of linkage for T2DM in ethnically diverse populations.
Phenotypic and genotypic data were obtained from African American (AA; total number of individuals (N)=1004), American Indian (AI; N=883), European American (EA; N=537), and Mexican American (MA; N=1634) individuals from the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes. Nonparametric linkage analysis, using an average of 4,404 SNPs, was performed in relative pairs affected with T2DM in each ethnic group. In addition, family-based tests were performed to detect association with T2DM.
Statistically significant evidence for linkage was observed on chromosomes 4q21.1 (LOD=3.13; genome-wide p=0.04) in AA. In addition, a total of eleven regions showed suggestive evidence for linkage (estimated at LOD>1.71), with the highest LOD scores on chromosomes 12q21.31 (LOD=2.02) and 22q12.3 (LOD=2.38) in AA, 2p11.1 (LOD=2.23) in AI, 6p12.3 (LOD=2.77) in EA, and 13q21.1 (LOD=2.24) in MA. While no region overlapped across all ethnic groups, at least five loci showing LOD>1.71 have been identified in previously published studies.
The results from this study provide evidence for the presence of genes affecting T2DM on chromosomes 4q, 12q, and 22q in AA, 6p in EA, 2p in AI, and 13q in MA. The strong evidence for linkage on chromosome 4q in AA provides important information given the paucity of diabetes genetic studies in this population.
PMCID: PMC2783577  PMID: 19795399
FIND; Type 2 Diabetes; linkage analysis; ethnicity
11.  MYH9 is a major-effect risk gene for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis 
Nature genetics  2008;40(10):1175-1184.
The increased burden of chronic kidney and end-stage kidney diseases (ESKD) in populations of African ancestry has been largely unexplained. To identify genetic variants predisposing to idiopathic and HIV-1–associated focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), we carried out an admixture-mapping linkage-disequilibrium genome scan on 190 African American individuals with FSGS and 222 controls. We identified a chromosome 22 region with a genome-wide logarithm of the odds (lod) score of 9.2 and a peak lod of 12.4 centered on MYH9, a functional candidate gene expressed in kidney podocytes. Multiple MYH9 SNPs and haplotypes were recessively associated with FSGS, most strongly a haplotype spanning exons 14 through 23 (OR = 5.0, 95% CI = 3.5–7.1; P = 4 × 10−23, n = 852). This association extended to hypertensive ESKD (OR = 2.2, 95% CI = 1.5–3.4; n = 433), but not type 2 diabetic ESKD (n = 476). Genetic variation at the MYH9 locus substantially explains the increased burden of FSGS and hypertensive ESKD among African Americans.
PMCID: PMC2827354  PMID: 18794856
12.  Heritability of the Severity of Diabetic Retinopathy: The FIND-Eye Study 
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic nephropathy (DN) are serious microvascular complications of diabetes mellitus. Correlations between severity of DR and DN and computed heritability estimates for DR were determined in a large, multiethnic sample of diabetic families. The hypothesis was that (1) the severity of DR correlates with the presence and severity of nephropathy in individuals with diabetes mellitus, and (2) the severity of DR is under significant familial influence in members of multiplex diabetic families.
The Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) was designed to evaluate the genetic basis of DN in American Indians, European Americans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans. FIND enrolled probands with advanced DN, along with their diabetic siblings who were concordant and discordant for nephropathy. These diabetic family members were invited to participate in the FIND-Eye study to determine whether inherited factors underlie susceptibility to DR and its severity. FIND-Eye participants underwent eye examinations and had fundus photographs taken. The severity of DR was graded by using the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study Classification (ETDRS). Sib–sib correlations were calculated with the SAGE 5.0 program FCOR, to estimate heritability of retinopathy severity.
This report summarizes the results for the first 2368 diabetic subjects from 767 families enrolled in FIND-Eye; nearly 50% were Mexican American, the largest single ethnicity within FIND. The overall prevalence of DR was high; 33.4% had proliferative DR; 7.5%, 22.8%, and 9.5% had severe, moderate, and mild nonproliferative DR, respectively; 26.6% had no DR. The severity of DR was significantly associated with severity of DN, both by phenotypic category and by increasing serum creatinine concentration (χ2 = 658.14, df = 20; P < 0.0001). The sib–sib correlation for DR severity was 0.1358 in the total sample and 0.1224 when limited to the Mexican-American sample. Broad sense heritabilities for DR were 27% overall and 24% in Mexican-American families. The polygenic heritability of liability for proliferative DR approximated 25% in this FIND-Eye sample.
These data confirm that the severity of DR parallels the presence and severity of nephropathy in individuals with diabetes mellitus. The severity of DR in members of multiplex diabetic families appears to have a significant familial connection.
PMCID: PMC2583147  PMID: 18765632
13.  β8 Integrin Binds Rho GDP Dissociation Inhibitor-1 and Activates Rac1 to Inhibit Mesangial Cell Myofibroblast Differentiation* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2006;281(28):19688-19699.
αvβ8 integrin expression is restricted primarily to kidney, brain, and placenta. Targeted αv or β8 deletion is embryonic lethal due to defective placenta and brain angiogenesis, precluding investigation of kidney αvβ8 function. We find that kidney β8 is localized to glomerular mesangial cells, and expression is decreased in mouse models of glomerulosclerosis, suggesting that β8 regulates normal mesangial cell differentiation. To interrogate β8 signaling pathways, yeast two-hybrid and co-precipitation studies demonstrated β8 interaction with Rho guanine nucleotide dissociation inhibitor-1 (GDI). Selective β8 stimulation enhanced β8-GDI interaction as well as Rac1 (but not RhoA) activation and lamellipodia formation. Mesangial cells from itgb8−/− mice backcrossed to a genetic background that permitted survival, or gdi−/− mice, which develop glomerulosclerosis, demonstrated RhoA (but not Rac1) activity and α-smooth muscle actin assembly, which characterizes mesangial cell myofibroblast transformation in renal disease. To determine whether Rac1 directly modulates RhoA-associated myofibroblast differentiation, mesangial cells were transduced with inhibitory Rac peptide fused to human immunodeficiency virus-Tat, resulting in enhanced α-smooth muscle actin organization. We conclude that the β8 cytosolic tail in mesangial cells organizes a signaling complex that culminates in Rac1 activation to mediate wild-type differentiation, whereas decreased β8 activation shifts mesangial cells toward a RhoA-dependent myofibroblast phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2711893  PMID: 16690620
14.  A genome-wide admixture scan identifies MYH9 as a candidate locus associated with non-diabetic end stage renal disease in African Americans 
Nature genetics  2008;40(10):1185-1192.
End stage renal disease (ESRD) has a four times higher incidence in African Americans compared to European Americans. This led to the hypothesis that susceptibility alleles for ESRD have a higher frequency in West African than European gene pool. We performed a genome-wide admixture scan in 1,372 ESRD cases and 806 controls and demonstrated a highly significant association between excess African ancestry and non-diabetic ESRD (LOD 5.70) but not diabetic ESRD (LOD 0.47) on chromosome 22q12. Each copy of the European ancestral allele conferred a relative risk of 0.50 (95% credible interval 0.39 – 0.63) compared to African ancestry. Multiple common SNPs (allele frequency ranging from 0.2 to 0.6) in the gene that encodes non-muscle myosin heavy chain type II isoform A (MYH9) were associated with 2-4 times greater risk of non-diabetic ESRD and accounted for a large proportion of the excess risk of ESRD observed in African compared to European Americans.
PMCID: PMC2614692  PMID: 18794854

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