PloS one

The adaptor protein Grb2 is not essential for the establishment of the glomerular filtration barrier.

PMID 23226445


The kidney filtration barrier is formed by the combination of endothelial cells, basement membrane and epithelial cells called podocytes. These specialized actin-rich cells form long and dynamic protrusions, the foot processes, which surround glomerular capillaries and are connected by specialized intercellular junctions, the slit diaphragms. Failure to maintain the filtration barrier leads to massive proteinuria and nephrosis. A number of proteins reside in the slit diaphragm, notably the transmembrane proteins Nephrin and Neph1, which are both able to act as tyrosine phosphorylated scaffolds that recruit cytoplasmic effectors to initiate downstream signaling. While association between tyrosine-phosphorylated Neph1 and the SH2/SH3 adaptor Grb2 was shown in vitro to be sufficient to induce actin polymerization, in vivo evidence supporting this finding is still lacking. To test this hypothesis, we generated two independent mouse lines bearing a podocyte-specific constitutive inactivation of the Grb2 locus. Surprisingly, we show that mice lacking Grb2 in podocytes display normal renal ultra-structure and function, thus demonstrating that Grb2 is not required for the establishment of the glomerular filtration barrier in vivo. Moreover, our data indicate that Grb2 is not required to restore podocyte function following kidney injury. Therefore, although in vitro experiments suggested that Grb2 is important for the regulation of actin dynamics, our data clearly shows that its function is not essential in podocytes in vivo, thus suggesting that Grb2 rather plays a secondary role in this process.