Aberrant Regulation of Notch3 Signaling Pathway in Polycystic Kidney Disease

Idowu, J., Home, T., Patel, N., Magenheimer, B., Tran, P. V., Maser, R. L., & Sharma, M.

Scientific reports 8.1 (2018): 3340.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder characterized by fluid-filled cysts in the kidney and liver that ultimately leads to end-stage renal disease. Currently there is no globally approved therapy for PKD. The Notch signaling pathway regulates cellular processes such as proliferation and de-differentiation, which are cellular hallmarks of PKD. Thus we hypothesized that the Notch pathway plays a critical role in PKD. Evaluation of protein expression of Notch signaling components in kidneys of Autosomal Recessive PKD (ARPKD) and Autosomal Dominant PKD (ADPKD) mouse models and of ADPKD patients revealed that Notch pathway members, particularly Notch3, were consistently upregulated or activated in cyst-lining epithelial cells. Notch3 expression correlated with rapidly growing cysts and co-localized with the proliferation marker, PCNA. Importantly, Notch inhibition significantly decreased forskolin-induced Notch3 activation and proliferation of primary human ADPKD cells, and significantly reduced cyst formation and growth of human ADPKD cells cultured in collagen gels. Thus our data indicate that Notch3 is aberrantly activated and facilitates epithelial cell proliferation in PKD, and that inhibition of Notch signaling may prevent cyst formation and growth.

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