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Circ Res. 1998 Dec 14-28;83(12):1279-88.

Kidney is the only source of human plasma renin in 45-kb human renin transgenic mice.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Center, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA.


Prorenin is expressed in certain extrarenal tissues, but normally only the kidneys process prorenin to renin and secrete renin into the circulation. Although transgenic animal lines containing the human renin (hREN) structural gene with either 0.9-kb or 3-kb 5'-flanking DNA express the transgene appropriately in renal juxtaglomerular cells and secrete hREN into the circulation, the source of the circulating renin is not known. In the present study, we observed that 13-kb hREN transgenic mice that contain the structural gene and 0.9-kb 5'-flanking DNA express hREN mRNA in many unusual tissues. We also observed that circulating hREN levels in 13-kb hREN mice increased after bilateral nephrectomy. These results suggested that the hREN gene is expressed at inappropriate locations where prorenin might be processed to renin. To determine if more distal sequences flanking the hREN gene might contribute to cell and tissue specificity, we used a 45-kb hREN genomic fragment that contained the structural gene and about 25-kb 5'- and 8-kb 3'-flanking DNA sequences to generate 3 separate transgenic lines that contained the intact transgene sequences. Ribonuclease protection assays revealed a much narrower tissue distribution of hREN expression than in the 13-kb hREN transgenic mice. In each 45-kb hREN line, hREN mRNA was present only in the kidney, adrenal, lung, eye, ovary, and brain. Moreover, 24 hours after nephrectomy, human plasma renin fell to very low levels, indistinguishable from those of nontransgenic littermates, indicating that their circulating hREN is of renal origin. These studies suggest that sequences flanking the structural gene, missing from previous hREN transgenic lines, suppress renin gene expression at inappropriate extrarenal sites where cellular proteases, to which prorenin is not normally exposed, could convert prorenin to renin, resulting in abnormal secretion of renin into the plasma.

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