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Kidney Int. 2008 Mar;73(6):741-50. doi: 10.1038/ Epub 2008 Jan 9.

Mice with altered alpha-actinin-4 expression have distinct morphologic patterns of glomerular disease.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Mutations in ACTN4, encoding the actin-binding protein alpha-actinin-4, cause a form of familial focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. We had developed two strains of transgenic mice with distinct alterations in the expression of alpha-actinin-4. One strain carried a human disease-associated mutation in murine Actn4, whereas the other knockout strain did not express alpha-actinin-4 protein. Most adult homozygous Actn4 mutant and knockout mice developed collapsing glomerulopathy. Homozygous Actn4 mutant mice also exhibited actin and alpha-actinin-4-containing electron-dense cytoplasmic structures, that were present but less prominent in heterozygous Actn4 mutant mice and not consistently seen in wild-type or knockout mice. Heterozygous Actn4 mutant mice did not develop glomerulosclerosis, but did exhibit focal glomerular hypertrophy and mild glomerular ultrastructural changes. The ultrastructural abnormalities seen in heterozygous Actn4 mutant mice suggest low-level glomerular damage, which may increase susceptibility to injury caused by genetic or environmental stressors. Our studies show that different genetic defects in the same protein produce a spectrum of glomerular morphologic lesions depending on the specific combination of normal and/or defective alleles.

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