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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Mar;20(3):473-8. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2008070694. Epub 2009 Feb 25.

Lipid-protein interactions along the slit diaphragm of podocytes.

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Department of Medicine and Centre for Molecular Medicine, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.


Podocytes are visceral epithelial cells supporting the function of the glomerular filter. Interdigitating foot processes of podocytes enwrap the glomerular capillaries and are connected by a highly specialized cell junction, the slit diaphragm. Signal transduction at the slit diaphragm is essential for the proper function of the kidney filtration barrier. The slit diaphragm constitutes a dynamic multiprotein signaling complex that contains structural proteins, receptors, signaling adaptors, ion channels, and scaffolding proteins. Function of some of these proteins requires cholesterol attached to the multiprotein complex. Recruitment of cholesterol is achieved through the PHB domain protein podocin, a member of a novel family of lipid-binding proteins that are conserved through evolution. The finding that cholesterol interaction regulates the activity of ion channels at the glomerular filtration barrier has important implications for renal physiology and pathophysiology.

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