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Pediatr Nephrol. 2013 Sep;28(9):1723-37. doi: 10.1007/s00467-012-2281-y. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

Membrane trafficking in podocyte health and disease.

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Department of Nephrology, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15224, USA.


Podocytes are highly specialized epithelial cells localized in the kidney glomerulus. The distinct cell signaling events and unique cytoskeletal architecture tailor podocytes to withstand changes in hydrostatic pressure during glomerular filtration. Alteration of glomerular filtration leads to kidney disease and frequently manifests with proteinuria. It has been increasingly recognized that cell signaling and cytoskeletal dynamics are coupled more tightly to membrane trafficking than previously thought. Membrane trafficking coordinates the cross-talk between protein networks and signaling cascades in a spatially and temporally organized fashion and may be viewed as a communication highway between the cell exterior and interior. Membrane trafficking involves transport of cargo from the plasma membrane to the cell interior (i.e., endocytosis) followed by cargo trafficking to lysosomes for degradation or to the plasma membrane for recycling. Yet, recent studies indicate that the conventional classification does not fully reflect the complex and versatile nature of membrane trafficking. While the increasing complexity of elaborate protein scaffolds and signaling cascades is being recognized in podocytes, the role of membrane trafficking is less well understood. This review will focus on the role of membrane trafficking in podocyte health and disease.

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