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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2007 Mar;18(3):719-29. Epub 2007 Jan 31.

Impaired glomerular maturation and lack of VEGF165b in Denys-Drash syndrome.

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Institute of Human Genetics and Anthropology, Duesseldorg, Germany.


Individuals with Denys-Drash syndrome (DDS) develop diffuse mesangial sclerosis, ultimately leading to renal failure. The disease is caused by mutations that affect the zinc finger structure of the Wilms' tumor protein (WT1), but the mechanisms whereby these mutations result in glomerulosclerosis remain largely obscure. How WT1 regulates genes is likely to be complex, because it has multiple splice forms, binds both DNA and RNA, and associates with spliceosomes. Herein is described that in DDS podocytes, the ratio of both WT1 +KTS isoforms C to D differs considerably from that of normal child and adult control podocytes and more closely resembles fetal profiles. Aside from the delay in podocyte maturation, DDS glomeruli show swollen endothelial cells, reminiscent of endotheliosis, together with incompletely fused capillary basement membranes; a dramatic decrease in collagen alpha4(IV) and laminin beta2 chains; and the presence of immature or activated mesangial cells that express alpha-smooth muscle actin. Because appropriate vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) expression is known to be essential for the development and maintenance of glomerular architecture and function, this article addresses the question of whether VEGF-A expression is deregulated in DDS. The data presented here show that DDS podocytes express high levels of the proangiogenic isoform VEGF165, but completely lack the inhibitory isoform VEGF165b. The VEGF165/VEGF165b ratio in DDS resembles that of fetal S-shaped bodies, rather than that of normal child or adult control subjects. The alteration in VEGF-A expression presented here may provide a mechanistic insight into the pathogenesis of DDS.

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