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UCH-L1 induces podocyte hypertrophy in membranous nephropathy by protein accumulation

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2014.02.011
  • Membranous Nephropathy
  • Passive Heymann Nephritis
  • Ubiquitin C-Terminal Hydrolase-L1
  • Proteasomal Degradation
  • Hypertrophy
  • P27Kip1
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Podocytes are terminally differentiated cells of the glomerular filtration barrier that react with hypertrophy in the course of injury such as in membranous nephropathy (MGN). The neuronal deubiquitinase ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1) is expressed and activated in podocytes of human and rodent MGN. UCH-L1 regulates the mono-ubiquitin pool and induces accumulation of poly-ubiquitinated proteins in affected podocytes. Here, we investigated the role of UCH-L1 in podocyte hypertrophy and in the homeostasis of the hypertrophy associated “model protein” p27Kip1. A better understanding of the basic mechanisms leading to podocyte hypertrophy is crucial for the development of specific therapies in MGN. In human and rat MGN, hypertrophic podocytes exhibited a simultaneous up-regulation of UCH-L1 and of cytoplasmic p27Kip1 content. Functionally, inhibition of UCH-L1 activity and knockdown or inhibition of UCH-L1 attenuated podocyte hypertrophy by decreasing the total protein content in isolated glomeruli and in cultured podocytes. In contrast, UCH-L1 levels and activity increased podocyte hypertrophy and total protein content in culture, specifically of cytoplasmic p27Kip1. UCH-L1 enhanced cytoplasmic p27Kip1 levels by nuclear export and decreased poly-ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of p27Kip1. In parallel, UCH-L1 increased podocyte turnover, migration and cytoskeletal rearrangement, which are associated with known oncogenic functions of cytoplasmic p27Kip1 in cancer. We propose that UCH-L1 induces podocyte hypertrophy in MGN by increasing the total protein content through altered degradation and accumulation of proteins such as p27Kip1 in the cytoplasm of podocytes. Modification of both UCH-L1 activity and levels could be a new therapeutic avenue to podocyte hypertrophy in MGN.

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