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Genes Dev. 1996 Dec 1;10(23):2981-92.

Collagen COL4A3 knockout: a mouse model for autosomal Alport syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, Nebraska 68131, USA.


A mouse model for the autosomal form of Alport syndrome was produced. These mice develop a progressive glomerulonephritis with microhematuria and proteinuria, consistent with the human disease. End-stage renal disease develops at approximately 14 weeks of age. TEM analysis of the glomerular basement membranes (GBM) during development of renal pathology revealed focal multilaminated thickening and thinning beginning in the external capillary loops at 4 weeks and spreading throughout the GBM by 8 weeks. By 14 weeks, half of the glomeruli were fibrotic with collapsed capillaries. Immunofluorescence analysis of the GBM showed the absence of type IV collagen alpha-3, alpha-4, and alpha-5 chains and a persistence of alpha-1 and alpha-2 chains (these chains normally localize to the mesangial matrix). Northern blot analysis using probes specific for the collagen chains illustrate the absence of COL4A3 in the knockout, whereas mRNAs for the remaining chains are unchanged. An accumulation of fibronectin, heparan sulfate proteoglycan, laminin-1, and entactin was observed in the GBM of the affected animals. The temporal and spatial pattern of accumulation was consistent with that for thickening of the GBM as observed by TEM. Thus, expression of these basement membrane-associated proteins may be involved in the progression of Alport renal disease pathogenesis. The levels of mRNAs encoding the basement membrane-associated proteins at 7 weeks were unchanged.

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