[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies show evidence for the genetic basis of renal disease, which renders some individuals more prone than others to accelerated renal aging. Studying the genetics of renal aging can help us to identify genes involved in this process and to unravel the underlying pathways. First, this opinion article will give an overview of the phenotypes that can be observed in age-related kidney disease. Accurate phenotyping is essential in performing genetic analysis. For kidney aging, this could include both functional and structural changes. Subsequently, this article reviews the studies that report on candidate genes associated with renal aging in humans and mice. Several loci or candidate genes have been found associated with kidney disease, but identification of the specific genetic variants involved has proven to be difficult. CUBN, UMOD, and SHROOM3 were identified by human GWAS as being associated with albuminuria, kidney function, and chronic kidney disease (CKD). These are promising examples of genes that could be involved in renal aging, and were further mechanistically evaluated in animal models. Eventually, we will provide approaches for performing genetic analysis. We should leverage the power of mouse models, as testing in humans is limited. Mouse and other animal models can be used to explain the underlying biological mechanisms of genes and loci identified by human GWAS. Furthermore, mouse models can be used to identify genetic variants associated with age-associated histological changes, of which Far2, Wisp2, and Esrrg are examples. A new outbred mouse population with high genetic diversity will facilitate the identification of genes associated with renal aging by enabling high-resolution genetic mapping while also allowing the control of environmental factors, and by enabling access to renal tissues at specific time points for histology, proteomics, and gene expression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Renal aging is characterized by functional and structural changes like decreased glomerular filtration rate, and glomerular, tubular and interstitial damage. To gain insight in pathways involved in renal aging, we studied aged mouse strains and used genetic analysis to identify genes associated with aging phenotypes.
Upon morphological screening in kidneys from 20-month-old mice from 26 inbred strains we noted intracapillary PAS-positive deposits. The severity of these deposits was quantified by scoring of a total of 50 glomeruli per section (grade 0–4). Electron microscopy and immunohistochemical staining for apoE, apoB, apoA-IV and perilipin-2 was performed to further characterize the lesions. To identify loci associated with these PAS-positive intracapillary glomerular deposits, we performed haplotype association mapping.
Six out of 26 mouse strains showed glomerular PAS-positive deposits. The severity of these deposits varied: NOD(0.97), NZW(0.41), NON(0.30), B10(0.21), C3 H(0.9) and C57BR(0.7). The intracapillary deposits were strongly positive for apoE and weakly positive for apoB and apoA-IV. Haplotype association mapping showed a strong association with a 30-Kb haplotype block on Chr 1 within the Esrrg gene. We investigated 1 Mb on each site of this region, which includes the genes Spata17, Gpatch2, Esrrg, Ush2a and Kctd3.
By analyzing 26 aged mouse strains we found that some strains developed an intracapillary PAS and apoE-positive lesion and identified a small haplotype block on Chr 1 within the Esrrg gene to be associated with these lipoprotein deposits. The region spanning this haplotype block contains the genes Spata17, Gpatch2, Esrrg, Ush2a and Kctd3, which are all highly expressed in the kidney. Esrrg might be involved in the evolvement of these glomerular deposits by influencing lipid metabolism and possibly immune reponses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We sequenced the complete genome of the widely used C57L/J mouse inbred strain. With 40x average coverage we compared the C57L/J sequence with that of the C57BL/6J and identified many known, as well as novel private variants. This genome sequence adds another strain to the growing number of mouse inbred strains with complete genome sequences and is a valuable resource to the scientific community.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: FSGS is characterized by segmental scarring of the glomerulus and is a leading cause of kidney failure. Identification of genes causing FSGS has improved our understanding of disease mechanisms and points to defects in the glomerular epithelial cell, the podocyte, as a major factor in disease pathogenesis. Using a combination of genome-wide linkage studies and whole-exome sequencing in a kindred with familial FSGS, we identified a missense mutation R431C in anillin (ANLN), an F-actin binding cell cycle gene, as a cause of FSGS. We screened 250 additional families with FSGS and found another variant, G618C, that segregates with disease in a second family with FSGS. We demonstrate upregulation of anillin in podocytes in kidney biopsy specimens from individuals with FSGS and kidney samples from a murine model of HIV-1-associated nephropathy. Overexpression of R431C mutant ANLN in immortalized human podocytes results in enhanced podocyte motility. The mutant anillin displays reduced binding to the slit diaphragm-associated scaffold protein CD2AP. Knockdown of the ANLN gene in zebrafish morphants caused a loss of glomerular filtration barrier integrity, podocyte foot process effacement, and an edematous phenotype. Collectively, these findings suggest that anillin is important in maintaining the integrity of the podocyte actin cytoskeleton.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A hallmark of aging-related organ deterioration is a dysregulated immune response characterized by pathologic leukocyte infiltration of affected tissues. Mechanisms and genes involved are as yet unknown. To identify genes associated with aging-related renal infiltration, we analyzed kidneys from aged mice (≥20 strains) for infiltrating leukocytes followed by Haplotype Association Mapping (HAM) analysis. Immunohistochemistry revealed CD45+ cell clusters (predominantly T and B cells) in perivascular areas coinciding with PNAd+ high endothelial venules and podoplanin+ lymph vessels indicative of tertiary lymphoid organs. Cumulative cluster size increased with age (analyzed at 6, 12 and 20 months). Based on the presence or absence of clusters in male and female mice at 20 months, HAM analysis revealed significant associations with loci on Chr1, Chr2, Chr8 and Chr14 in male mice, and with loci on Chr4, Chr7, Chr13 and Chr14 in female mice. Wisp2 (Chr2) showed the strongest association (P = 5.00×10-137) in male mice; Ctnnbip1 (P = 6.42×10-267) and Tnfrsf8 (P = 5.42×10-245) (both on Chr4) showed the strongest association in female mice. Both Wisp2 and Ctnnbip1 are part of the Wnt-signaling pathway and the encoded proteins were expressed within the tertiary lymphoid organs. In conclusion, this study revealed differential lymphocytic infiltration and tertiary lymphoid organ formation in aged mouse kidneys across different inbred mouse strains. HAM analysis identified candidate genes involved in the Wnt-signaling pathway that may be causally linked to tertiary lymphoid organ formation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 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, and for gaining better insights into the mechanisms leading to Alport syndrome, and to the variability in the age of onset and associated phenotypes.Kidney International advance online publication, 12 February 2014; doi:10.1038/ki.2013.493.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Kidney International
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In humans, a number of genetic factors have been linked to the development of fibrosis in a variety of different organs. Seeking a wider understanding of this observation in man is ethically important. There is mounting evidence suggesting that inbred mouse strains with different genetic backgrounds demonstrate variable susceptibility to a fibrotic injury. We performed a systematic review of the literature describing strain and organ specific response to injury in order to determine whether genetic susceptibility plays a role in fibrogenesis. Data were collected from studies that were deemed eligible for analysis based on set inclusion criteria, and findings were assessed in relation to strain of mouse, type of injury and organ of investigation. A total of 44 studies were included covering 21 mouse strains and focusing on fibrosis in the lung, liver, kidney, intestine and heart. There is evidence that mouse strain differences influence susceptibility to fibrosis and this appears to be organ specific. For instance, C57BL/6J mice are resistant to hepatic, renal and cardiac fibrosis but susceptible to pulmonary and intestinal fibrosis. However, BALB/c mice are resistant to pulmonary fibrosis but susceptible to hepatic fibrosis. Few studies have assessed the effect of the same injury stimulus in different organ systems using the same strains of mouse. Such mouse strain studies may prove useful in elucidating the genetic as well as epigenetic factors in humans that could help determine why some people are more susceptible to the development of certain organ specific fibrosis than others.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexins (PCSKs) are a serine endopeptidase family. PCSK members cleave amino acid residues and modulate the activity of precursor proteins. Evidence from patients and animal models carrying genetic alterations in PCSK members show that PCSK members are involved in various metabolic processes. These studies further revealed the molecular mechanism by which genetic alteration of some PCSK members impairs normal molecular and physiological functions, which in turn lead to cardiovascular disease. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is anti-atherogenic as it removes excessive amount of cholesterol from blood and peripheral tissues. Several PCSK members are involved in HDL metabolism. PCSK3, PCSK5, and PCSK6 process two triglyceride lipase family members, endothelial lipase and lipoprotein lipase, which are important for HDL remodeling. Recent studies in our lab found evidence that PCSK1 and PCSK9 are also involved in HDL metabolism. A mouse model carrying an amino acid substitution in PCSK1 showed an increase in serum apolipoprotein A1 (APOA1) level. Another mouse model lacking PCSK9 showed a decrease in APOE-containing HDL. In this review, we summarize the role of the five PCSK members in lipid, glucose, and bile acid (BA) metabolism, each of which can influence HDL metabolism. We propose an integrative model in which PCSK members regulate HDL metabolism through various molecular mechanisms and metabolic processes and genetic variation in some PCSK members may affect the efficiency of reverse cholesterol transport. PCSK members are considered as attractive therapeutic targets. A greater understanding of the molecular and physiological functions of PCSK members will improve therapeutic strategies and drug efficacy for cardiovascular disease where PCSK members play critical role, with fewer adverse effects.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aging of the kidney is associated with renal damage, in particular mesangial matrix expansion (MME). Identifying the genes involved in this process will help to unravel the mechanisms of aging and aid in the design of novel therapeutic modalities aimed at prevention and regression. In this study, structural changes in glomeruli of 24 inbred mouse strains were characterized in male mice at 6, 12, and 20 months of age. Haplotype association mapping was used to determine genetic loci associated with the presence of MME at 20 months. This analysis identified a significant association with a 200-kb haplotype block on chromosome 6 containing Far2. Sequencing revealed that mouse strains with MME contain a 9-bp sequence in the 5' untranslated region of Far2 that is absent in most of the strains without MME. Real-time PCR showed a two-fold increase in the expression of Far2 in the kidneys of strains with the insert, and subsequent experiments performed in vitro with luciferase reporter vectors showed that this sequence difference causes differential expression of Far2. Overexpression of Far2 in a mouse mesangial cell line induced upregulation of platelet activating factor and the fibrotic marker TGF-β. This upregulation of MME-promoting factors may result, in part, from the FAR2-catalyzed reduction of fatty acyl-coenzyme A to fatty alcohols, which are possible precursors of platelet activating factor. Overall, these data suggest the identification of a novel pathway involved in renal aging that may yield therapeutic targets for reducing MME.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hypertension is one of the major risk factors for chronic kidney disease. Using quantitative trait loci analysis, we identified the gene of the F-BAR protein NOSTRIN in the center of an overlapping region in rat and human quantitative trait loci that are associated with hypertension. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a predominantly podocytic expression pattern of NOSTRIN in human and mouse glomeruli. Further, NOSTRIN colocalizes with cell-cell contact-associated proteins β-catenin and zonula occludens-1 and interacts with the slit-membrane-associated adaptor protein CD2AP. In zebrafish larvae, knockdown of nostrin alters the glomerular filtration barrier function, inducing proteinuria and leading to ultrastructural morphological changes on the endothelial and epithelial side and of the glomerular basement membrane of the glomerular capillary loop. We conclude that NOSTRIN expression is an important factor for the integrity of the glomerular filtration barrier. Disease-related alteration of NOSTRIN expression may not only affect the vascular endothelium and, therefore, contribute to endothelial cell dysfunction but might also contribute to the development of podocyte disease and proteinuria.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Studies in animals showed that PCSK9 is involved in HDL metabolism. We investigated the molecular mechanism by which PCSK9 regulates HDL cholesterol concentration and also whether Pcsk9 inactivation might affect cholesterol efflux capacity of serum and atherosclerotic fatty streak volume.
Mass spectrometry and western blot were used to analyze the level of apolipoprotein E (APOE) and A1 (APOA1). A mouse model overexpressing human LDLR was used to test the effect of high levels of liver LDLR on the concentration of HDL cholesterol and APOE-containing HDL subfractions. Pcsk9 knockout males lacking LDLR and APOE were used to test whether LDLR and APOE are necessary for PCSK9-mediated HDL cholesterol regulation. We also investigated the effects of Pcsk9 inactivation on cholesterol efflux capacity of serum using THP-1 and J774.A1 macrophage foam cells and atherosclerotic fatty streak volume in the aortic sinus of Pcsk9 knockout males fed an atherogenic diet.
APOE and APOA1 were reduced in the same HDL subfractions of Pcsk9 knockout and human LDLR transgenic male mice. In Pcsk9/Ldlr double-knockout mice, HDL cholesterol concentration was lower than in Ldlr knockout mice and higher than in wild-type controls. In Pcsk9/Apoe double-knockout mice, HDL cholesterol concentration was similar to that of Apoe knockout males. In Pcsk9 knockout males, THP-1 macrophage cholesterol efflux capacity of serum was reduced and the fatty streak lesion volume was similar to wild-type controls.
In mice, LDLR and APOE are important factors for PCSK9-mediated HDL regulation. Our data suggest that, although LDLR plays a major role in PCSK9-mediated regulation of HDL cholesterol concentration, it is not the only mechanism and that, regardless of mechanism, APOE is essential. Pcsk9 inactivation decreases the HDL cholesterol concentration and cholesterol efflux capacity in serum, but does not increase atherosclerotic fatty streak volume.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Lipids in Health and Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Normally, the glomerular filtration barrier almost completely excludes circulating albumin from entering the urine. Genetic variation and both pre- and postnatal environmental factors may affect albuminuria in humans. Here we determine whether glomerular gene expression in mouse strains with naturally occurring variations in albuminuria would allow identification of proteins deregulated in relatively 'leaky' glomeruli. Albuminuria increased in female B6 to male B6 to female FVB/N to male FVB/N mice, whereas the number of glomeruli/kidney was the exact opposite. Testosterone administration led to increased albuminuria in female B6 but not female FVB/N mice. A common set of 39 genes, many expressed in podocytes, were significantly differentially expressed in each of the four comparisons: male versus female B6 mice, male versus female FVB/N mice, male FVB/N versus male B6 mice, and female FVB/N versus female B6 mice. The transcripts encoded proteins involved in oxidation/reduction reactions, ion transport, and enzymes involved in detoxification. These proteins may represent novel biomarkers and even therapeutic targets for early kidney and cardiovascular disease.Kidney International advance online publication, 27 February 2013; doi:10.1038/ki.2013.45.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · Kidney International
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the past 15 years the quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping approach has been applied to crosses between different inbred mouse strains to identify genetic loci associated with plasma HDL cholesterol levels. Although successful, a disadvantage of this method is low mapping resolution, as often, several hundred candidate genes fall within the confidence interval for each locus. Methods have been developed to narrow these loci by combining the data from the different crosses, but they rely on the accurate mapping of the QTL and the treatment of the data in a consistent manner. We collected 23 raw datasets used for the mapping of previously published HDL QTL and reanalyzed the data from each cross using a consistent method and the latest mouse genetic map. By utilizing this approach, we identified novel QTL and QTL that were mapped to the wrong part of chromosomes. Our new HDL QTL map allows for reliable combining of QTL data and candidate gene analysis, which we demonstrate by identifying Grin3a and Etv6, as candidate genes for QTL on chromosomes 4 and 6 respectively. In addition, we were able to narrow a QTL on Chr 19 down to five candidates.
Preview · Article · Feb 2013 · The Journal of Lipid Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite considerable progress understanding genes that affect the HDL particle, its function, and cholesterol content, genes identified to date explain only a small percentage of the genetic variation. We used N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea mutagenesis in mice to discover novel genes that affect HDL cholesterol levels. Two mutant lines (Hlb218 and Hlb320) with low HDL cholesterol levels were established. Causal mutations in these lines were mapped using linkage analysis: for line Hlb218 within a 12 Mbp region on Chr 10; and for line Hlb320 within a 21 Mbp region on Chr 7. High-throughput sequencing of Hlb218 liver RNA identified a mutation in Pla2g12b. The transition of G to A leads to a cysteine to tyrosine change and most likely causes a loss of a disulfide bridge. Microarray analysis of Hlb320 liver RNA showed a 7-fold downregulation of Hpn; sequencing identified a mutation in the 3' splice site of exon 8. Northern blot confirmed lower mRNA expression level in Hlb320 and did not show a difference in splicing, suggesting that the mutation only affects the splicing rate. In addition to affecting HDL cholesterol, the mutated genes also lead to reduction in serum non-HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Despite low HDL cholesterol levels, the mice from both mutant lines show similar atherosclerotic lesion sizes compared to control mice. These new mutant mouse models are valuable tools to further study the role of these genes, their affect on HDL cholesterol levels, and metabolism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We observed differences in atherosclerosis susceptibility in mouse inbred strains over the years as the health status of our animal rooms increased. Therefore, we investigated the effect of animal room health status on atherosclerosis susceptibility in different strains. As these data can also be used for genome-wide association mapping, we performed a mapping study and compared our results with previously found quantitative trait loci for atherosclerosis in mouse and humans.
Males and females from 48 inbred strains were housed in 2 animal rooms with different health status and given an atherogenic diet. We compared atherosclerosis susceptibility between animal rooms and between sexes and found that susceptibility is dependent on both health status and sex. Subsequently, the data were used for associations with loci on the mouse genome using 63 222 single nucleotide polymorphism. Three loci in males and 4 loci in females were identified using the data from the low-health status room. No significant associations were identified using the data from the high-health status room.
Health status influences susceptibility to atherosclerosis and suggests that microbiological pressure plays an important role in the development of atherosclerosis in many strains. As we were only able to map susceptibility loci using the data from the lower health status room, we argue that susceptibility under these conditions is determined by a few key loci, whereas in the higher health status room different mechanisms might play a role in the differences in atherosclerosis susceptibility between strains and we did not have enough power to map the loci that are involved.