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Activation of podocyte notch mediates early Wt1 glomerulopathy

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-920
JournalKidney International
Issue number4
Early online date2 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


The Wilms' tumor suppressor gene, WT1, encodes a zinc finger protein that regulates podocyte development and is highly expressed in mature podocytes. Mutations in the WT1 gene are associated with the development of renal failure due to the formation of scar tissue within glomeruli, the mechanisms of which are poorly understood. Here, we used a tamoxifen-based CRE-LoxP system to induce deletion of Wt1 in adult mice to investigate the mechanisms underlying evolution of glomerulosclerosis. Podocyte apoptosis was evident as early as the fourth day post induction and increased during disease progression, supporting a role for Wt1 in mature podocyte survival. Podocyte Notch activation was evident at disease onset with upregulation of Notch1 and its
transcriptional targets, including Nrarp. There was repression of podocyte FoxC2 and upregulation of Hey2 supporting a role for a Wt1/FoxC2/Notch transcriptional network in mature podocyte injury. The expression of cleaved Notch1 and HES1 proteins in podocytes of mutant mice was confirmed in early disease. Furthermore,
induction of podocyte HES1 expression was associated with upregulation of genes implicated in epithelial mesenchymal transition, thereby suggesting that HES1 mediates podocyte EMT. Lastly, early pharmacological inhibition of Notch signalling ameliorated glomerular scarring and albuminuria. Thus, loss of Wt1 in mature podocytes modulates podocyte Notch activation which could mediate early events in WT1-related glomerulosclerosis

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