Kidney international

Neuronal proteins are novel components of podocyte major processes and their expression in glomerular crescents supports their role in crescent formation.

PMID 22913984


The podocyte has a central role in the glomerular filtration barrier typified by a sophisticated morphology of highly organized primary (major) and secondary (foot) processes. The molecular makeup of foot processes is well characterized, but that of major processes is poorly known. Previously, we profiled the glomerular transcriptome through large-scale sequencing and microarray profiling. Unexpectedly, the survey found expression of three neuronal proteins (Huntingtin interacting protein 1 (Hip1), neurofascin (Nfasc), and olfactomedin-like 2a (Olfml2a)), all enriched in the glomerulus. These proteins were expressed exclusively by podocytes, wherein they localized to major processes as verified by RT-PCR, western blotting, immunofluorescence, and immunoelectron microscopy. During podocyte development, these proteins colocalized with vimentin, confirming their association with major processes. Using immunohistochemistry, we found coexpression of Hip1 and Olfml2a along with the recognized podocyte markers synaptopodin and Pdlim2 in glomerular crescents of human kidneys, indicating the presence of podocytes in these lesions. Thus, three neuronal proteins are highly expressed in podocyte major process. Using these new markers we found that podocytes contribute to the formation of glomerular crescents.