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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2011 Jul;301(1):F1-11. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00141.2011. Epub 2011 Apr 13.

Saccharomyces cerivisiae as a model system for kidney disease: what can yeast tell us about renal function?

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  • 1University of Pittsburgh, 4249 Fifth Ave., A320 Langley Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


Ion channels, solute transporters, aquaporins, and factors required for signal transduction are vital for kidney function. Because mutations in these proteins or in associated regulatory factors can lead to disease, an investigation into their biogenesis, activities, and interplay with other proteins is essential. To this end, the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, represents a powerful experimental system. Proteins expressed in yeast include the following: 1) ion channels, including the epithelial sodium channel, members of the inward rectifying potassium channel family, and cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator; 2) plasma membrane transporters, such as the Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase, the Na(+)-phosphate cotransporter, and the Na(+)-H(+) ATPase; 3) aquaporins 1-4; and 4) proteins such as serum/glucocorticoid-induced kinase 1, phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1, Rh glycoprotein kidney, and trehalase. The variety of proteins expressed and studied emphasizes the versatility of yeast, and, because of the many available tools in this organism, results can be obtained rapidly and economically. In most cases, data gathered using yeast have been substantiated in higher cell types. These attributes validate yeast as a model system to explore renal physiology and suggest that research initiated using this system may lead to novel therapeutics.

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