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Am J Pathol. 1999 Jun;154(6):1721-9.

Coordinate expression of the autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease proteins, polycystin-2 and polycystin-1, in normal and cystic tissue.

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MRC Molecular Haematology Unit,* Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom.


A second gene for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), PKD2, has been recently identified. Using antisera raised to the human PKD2 protein, polycystin-2, we describe for the first time its distribution in human fetal tissues, as well as its expression in adult kidney and polycystic PKD2 tissues. Its expression pattern is correlated with that of the PKD1 protein, polycystin-1. In normal kidney, expression of polycystin-2 strikingly parallels that of polycystin-1, with prominent expression by maturing proximal and distal tubules during development, but with a more pronounced distal pattern in adult life. In nonrenal tissues expression of both polycystin molecules is identical and especially notable in the developing epithelial structures of the pancreas, liver, lung, bowel, brain, reproductive organs, placenta, and thymus. Of interest, nonepithelial cell types such as vascular smooth muscle, skeletal muscle, myocardial cells, and neurons also express both proteins. In PKD2 cystic kidney and liver, we find polycystin-2 expression in the majority of cysts, although a significant minority are negative, a pattern mirrored by the PKD1 protein. The continued expression of polycystin-2 in PKD2 cysts is similar to that seen by polycystin-1 in PKD1 cysts, but contrasts with the reported absence of polycystin-2 expression in the renal cysts of Pkd2+/- mice. These results suggest that if a two-hit mechanism is required for cyst formation in PKD2 there is a high rate of somatic missense mutation. The coordinate presence or loss of both polycystin molecules in the same cysts supports previous experimental evidence that heterotypic interactions may stabilize these proteins.

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