Since adult podocytes cannot adequately proliferate following depletion in disease states there has been interest in the potential role of progenitors in podocyte repair and regeneration. To determine if parietal epithelial cells (PECs) can serve as adult podocyte progenitors following disease-induced podocyte depletion, PECs were permanently labeled in adult PECrtTA/LC1/R26 reporter mice. In normal mice, labeled PECs were confined to Bowman's capsule, while in disease (cytotoxic sheep anti-podocyte antibody), labeled PECs were found in the glomerular tuft in progressively higher numbers by days 7, 14 and 28. Early in disease, the majority of PECs in the tuft co-expressed CD44. By day 28, when podocyte numbers were significantly higher and disease severity was significantly lower, the majority of labeled PECs co-expressed podocyte proteins but not CD44. Neither labeled PECs on the tuft, nor podocytes stained for the proliferation marker BrdU. The de novo expression of phospho-ERK colocalized to CD44 expressing PECs, but not to PECs expressing podocyte markers. Thus, in a mouse model of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis typified by abrupt podocyte depletion followed by regeneration, PECs undergo two phenotypic changes once they migrate to the glomerular tuft. Initially these cells are predominantly activated CD44 expressing cells coinciding with glomerulosclerosis, and later they predominantly exhibit a podocyte phenotype which is likely reparative.
T follicular helper (TFH) cells are critical for B cell activation in germinal centers and are often observed in human inflamed tissue. However, it is difficult to know if they contribute in situ to inflammation. Expressed markers define TFH subsets associated with distinct functions in vitro. However, such markers may not reflect in situ function. The delivery of T cell help to B cells requires direct cognate recognition. We hypothesized that by visualizing and quantifying such interactions we could directly assess TFH cell competency in situ. Therefore, we developed computational tools to quantify spatial relationships between different cell subtypes in tissue (Cell Distance Mapping, CDM). Analysis of inflamed human tissues indicated that measurement of internuclear distances between TFH and B cells could be used to discriminate between cognate and non-cognate interactions. Furthermore, only cognate-competent TFH cell populations expressed high levels of Bcl-6 and IL-21. These data suggest that CDM can be used to identify adaptive immune cell networks driving in situ inflammation. Such knowledge should help identify diseases, and disease subsets, that may benefit from therapeutics targeting of specific T cell:antigen presenting cell interactions.
Objective In lupus nephritis (LuN), severe tubulointerstitial inflammation (TII) predicts progression to renal failure. Severe TII is associated with tertiary lymphoid neogenesis and in situ antigen-driven clonal B cell selection. The autoantigen(s) driving in situ B-cell selection in TII are not known. This study aimed to identify the dominant driving autoantigen(s). Methods Single CD38+ or Ki-67+ B cells were laser captured from seven LuN diagnostic biopsies. Eighteen clonally expanded immunoglobulin heavy and light chain variable region pairs were cloned and expressed as monoclonal antibodies. Seven more antibodies were cloned from flow sorted CD38+ cells from an eighth biopsy. Antigen characterization was performed using a combination of confocal microscopy, ELISA, screening protoarrays, immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry. Serum IgG titers to the dominant antigen were determined in 48 LuN and 35 non-nephritic lupus samples using purified antigen-coated arrays. Autoantigen expression was localized by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence on normal and LuN kidney. Results Eleven of 25 antibodies reacted with cytoplasmic structures, four reacted with nuclei, and none with dsDNA. Vimentin was the only autoantigen identified by both mass spectrometry and by protoarray. Ten of the 11 anti-cytoplasmic TII antibodies directly bound vimentin. Vimentin was highly expressed by tubulointerstitial inflammatory cells, and tested TII antibodies preferentially bound inflamed tubulointerstitium. Finally, high-titers of serum anti-vimentin antibodies were associated with severe TII (p = 0.0001). Conclusion Vimentin, an antigenic feature of inflammation, is a dominant autoantigen targeted in situ in LuN TII. This adaptive autoimmune response likely feeds forward to worsen TII and renal damage.
Because adult podocytes cannot proliferate and are therefore unable to self-renew, replacement of these cells depends on stem/progenitor cells. Although podocyte number is higher after renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibition in glomerular diseases, the events explaining this increase are unclear. Cells of renin lineage (CoRL) have marked plasticity, including the ability to acquire a podocyte phenotype. To test the hypothesis that RAAS inhibition partially replenishes adult podocytes by increasing CoRL number, migration, and/or transdifferentiation, we administered tamoxifen to Ren1cCreERxRs-tdTomato-R CoRL reporter mice to induce permanent labeling of CoRL with red fluorescent protein variant tdTomato. We then induced experimental FSGS, typified by abrupt podocyte depletion, with a cytopathic antipodocyte antibody. RAAS inhibition by enalapril (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor) or losartan (angiotensin-receptor blocker) in FSGS mice stimulated the proliferation of CoRL, increasing the reservoir of these cells in the juxtaglomerular compartment (JGC). Compared with water or hydralazine, RAAS inhibition significantly increased the migration of CoRL from the JGC to the intraglomerular compartment (IGC), with more glomeruli containing RFPCoRL and, within these glomeruli, more RFPCoRL. Moreover, RAAS inhibition in FSGS mice increased RFPCoRL transdifferentiation in the IGC to phenotypes, consistent with those of podocytes (coexpression of synaptopodin and Wilms tumor protein), parietal epithelial cells (PAX 8), and mesangial cells (α8 integrin). These results show that in the context of podocyte depletion in FSGS, RAAS inhibition augments CoRL proliferation and plasticity toward three different glomerular cell lineages.
Kidney aging is accompanied by characteristic changes in the glomerulus, but little is known about the effect of aging on glomerular parietal epithelial cells (PECs), nor if the characteristic glomerular changes in humans and rats also occur in very old mice. Accordingly, a descriptive analysis was undertaken in 27-mo-old C57B6 mice, considered advanced age. PEC density was significantly lower in older mice compared with young mice (aged 3 mo), and the decrease was more pronounced in juxtamedullary glomeruli compared with outer cortical glomeruli. In addition to segmental and global glomerulosclerosis in older mice, staining for matrix proteins collagen type IV and heparan sulfate proteoglycan were markedly increased in Bowman's capsules of older mouse glomeruli, consistent with increased extracellular matrix production by PECs. De novo staining for CD44, a marker of activated and profibrotic PECs, was significantly increased in aged glomeruli. CD44 staining was more pronounced in the juxtamedullary region and colocalized with phosphorylated ERK. Additionally, a subset of aged PECs de novo expressed the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition markers α-smooth muscle and vimentin, with no changes in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition markers E-cadherin and β-catenin. The mural cell markers neural/glial antigen 2, PDGF receptor-β, and CD146 as well as Notch 3 were also substantially increased in aged PECs. These data show that mice can be used to better understand the aging kidney and that PECs undergo substantial changes, especially in juxtamedullary glomeruli, that may participate in the overall decline in glomerular structure and function with advancing age.
Modified vascular smooth muscle cells of the kidney afferent arterioles have recently been shown to serve as progenitors for glomerular epithelial cells in response to glomerular injury. To determine whether such cells of renin lineage (CoRL) serve as progenitors for other cells in kidney disease characterized by both glomerular and tubulointerstitial injury, permanent genetic cell fate mapping of adult CoRL using Ren1cCreER × Rs-tdTomato-R reporter mice was performed. TdTomato-labeled CoRL were almost completely restricted to the juxtaglomerular compartment in healthy kidneys. Following 2 wk of antibody-mediated focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) or 16 wk of ⅚ nephrectomy-induced chronic kidney diseases, tdTomato-mapped CoRL were identified in both interstitial and glomerular compartments. In the interstitium, PDGFβ receptor (R)-expressing cells significantly increased, and a portion of these expressed tdTomato. This was accompanied by a decrease in native pericyte number, but an increase in the number of tdTomato cells that coexpressed the pericyte markers PDGFβ-R and NG2. These cells surrounded vessels and coexpressed the pericyte markers CD73 and CD146, but not the endothelial marker ERG. Within glomeruli of reporter mice with the ⅚ nephrectomy model, a subset of labeled CoRL migrated to the glomerular tuft and coexpressed podocin and synaptopodin. By contrast, labeled CoRL were not detected in glomerular or interstitial compartments following uninephrectomy. These observations indicate that in addition to supplying new adult podocytes to glomeruli, CoRL have the capacity to become new adult pericytes in the setting of interstitial disease. We conclude that CoRL have the potential to function as progenitors for multiple adult cell types in kidney disease.
The glycoprotein CD44 is barely detected in normal mouse and human glomeruli, but is increased in glomerular parietal epithelial cells following podocyte injury in focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). To determine the biological role and regulation of CD44 in these cells, we employed an in vivo and in vitro approach. Experimental FSGS was induced in CD44 knockout and wildtype mice with a cytotoxic podocyte antibody. Albuminuria, focal and global glomerulosclerosis (periodic acid-Schiff stain) and collagen IV staining were lower in CD44 knockout compared with wild type mice with FSGS. Parietal epithelial cells had lower migration from Bowman’s capsule to the glomerular tuft in CD44 knockout mice with disease compared with wild type mice. In cultured murine parietal epithelial cells, overexpressing CD44 with a retroviral vector encoding CD44 was accompanied by significantly increased collagen IV expression and parietal epithelial cells migration. Because our results showed de novo co-staining for activated ERK1/2 (pERK) in parietal epithelial cells in experimental FSGS, and also in biopsies from patients with FSGS, two in vitro strategies were employed to prove that pERK regulated CD44 levels. First, mouse parietal epithelial cells were infected with a retroviral vector for the upstream kinase MEK-DD to increase pERK, which was accompanied by increased CD44 levels. Second, in CD44 overexpressing parietal epithelial cells, decreasing pERK with U0126 was accompanied by reduced CD44. Finally, parietal epithelial cell migration was higher in cells with increased and reduced in cells with decreased pERK. Thus, pERK is a regulator of CD44 expression and increased CD44 expression leads to a pro-sclerotic and migratory parietal epithelial cells phenotype.
In B lymphopoiesis, activation of the pre-B cell antigen receptor (pre-BCR) is associated with both cell cycle exit and Igk recombination. Yet, how the pre-BCR mediates these functions remains unclear. Herein, we demonstrate that the pre-BCR initiated a feed-forward amplification loop mediated by the transcription factor IRF4 and the chemokine receptor CXCR4. CXCR4 ligation by CXCL12 activated the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) ERK which then directed the development of small pre-and immature B cells including orchestrating cell cycle exit, pre-BCR repression, Igk recombination and BCR expression. In contrast, pre-BCR expression and escape from interleukin 7 (IL-7) had only modest effects on B cell developmental transcriptional and epigenetic programs. These data demonstrate a direct and central role for CXCR4 in orchestrating late B cell lymphopoiesis. Furthermore, in the context of previous findings, our data provide a three-receptor system sufficient to recapitulate the essential features of B lymphopoiesis in vitro.
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