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The multiligand receptors megalin (Lrp2) and cubilin (Cubn) and their endocytic adaptor protein Dab2 (Dab2) play essential roles in maintaining the integrity of the apical endocytic pathway of proximal tubule (PT) cells and have complex and poorly understood roles in the development of chronic kidney disease. Here, we used RNA-sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 knockout (KO) technology in a well-differentiated cell culture model to identify PT-specific transcriptional changes that are directly consequent to the loss of megalin, cubilin, or Dab2 expression. KO of Lrp2 had the greatest transcriptional effect, and nearly all genes whose expression was affected in Cubn KO and Dab2 KO cells were also changed in Lrp2 KO cells. Pathway analysis and more granular inspection of the altered gene profiles suggested changes in pathways with immunomodulatory functions that might trigger the pathological changes observed in KO mice and patients with Donnai-Barrow syndrome. In addition, differences in transcription patterns between Lrp2 and Dab2 KO cells suggested the possibility that altered spatial signaling by aberrantly localized receptors contributes to transcriptional changes upon the disruption of PT endocytic function. A reduction in transcripts encoding sodium-glucose cotransporter isoform 2 was confirmed in Lrp2 KO mouse kidney lysates by quantitative PCR analysis. Our results highlight the role of megalin as a master regulator and coordinator of ion transport, metabolism, and endocytosis in the PT. Compared with the studies in animal models, this approach provides a means to identify PT-specific transcriptional changes that are directly consequent to the loss of these target genes.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Megalin and cubilin receptors together with their adaptor protein Dab2 represent major components of the endocytic machinery responsible for efficient uptake of filtered proteins by the proximal tubule (PT). Dab2 and megalin expression have been implicated as both positive and negative modulators of kidney disease. We used RNA sequencing to knock out CRISPR/Cas9 cubilin, megalin, and Dab2 in highly differentiated PT cells to identify PT-specific changes that are directly consequent to knockout of each component.


Kimberly R Long, Youssef Rbaibi, Corry D Bondi, B Rhodes Ford, Amanda C Poholek, Cary R Boyd-Shiwarski, Roderick J Tan, Joseph D Locker, Ora A Weisz. Cubilin-, megalin-, and Dab2-dependent transcription revealed by CRISPR/Cas9 knockout in kidney proximal tubule cells. American journal of physiology. Renal physiology. 2022 Jan 01;322(1):F14-F26

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PMID: 34747197

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