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Kidney Int. 2002 Nov;62(5):1560-9.

Multiorgan mRNA misexpression in murine autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.



BALB/c mice homozygous for the cpk mutation develop a form of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) with multiorgan pathology similar to human autosomal recessive PKD. Messenger RNA expression in multiple affected organs was analyzed to determine if common gene cascades were misexpressed in the cystic kidney and extrarenal sites of disease. In cystic kidneys, misexpressed mRNAs were found in one of four general groups: proliferation/cell growth, apoptosis, differentiation or extracellular matrix.


RNA was isolated from kidney, liver and pancreas of cystic and normal BALB/c-cpk mice. Using Northern blot hybridization and ribonuclease protection assays (RPA), the expression of several genes thought to be associated with PKD, namely c-myc, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) and PKD-1, were evaluated. RPAs were used to assess mRNA expression of cyclins and members of the bax/bcl-2 family. In addition, kidney, liver and pancreas were immunostained for c-Myc and PCNA.


Cystic kidney, liver and pancreas all exhibited similar patterns of mRNA misexpression of c-myc, EGF-R and PKD-1. In addition, a number of cell proliferation and apoptosis-related mRNAs also were elevated in cystic kidney and pancreas. Renal epithelial cells expressing proliferation-associated proteins [c-Myc and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)] were nearly absent in normal kidney; however, cells of cystic and non-cystic renal tubules plus liver and pancreatic cyst exhibited an increased number of nuclei labeled with antibodies to these proteins.


These data suggest that similar pathologic mechanisms (including the expression of c-myc, EGF-R, PKD-1, cyclin, and bax/bcl-2 family mRNAs) may be responsible for the development of cystic changes in kidney, liver and pancreas in murine autosomal recessive PKD. Treatments targeting these similarly misexpressed mRNAs may be efficacious in ameliorating the cystic pathology in the kidney as well as the other affected organs in ARPKD.

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