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      Expression of a Functional Asialoglycoprotein Receptor in Human Renal Proximal Tubular Epithelial Cells

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          Background: The asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR) is a C lectin which binds and endocytoses serum glycoproteins. In humans, the ASGPR is shown mainly to occur in hepatocytes, but does occur extrahepatically in thyroid, in small and large intestines, and in the testis. In the kidney, there has been evidence both for and against its existence in mesangial cells. Methods: Standard light microscopy examination of renal tissue stained with an antibody against the ASGPR was performed. The mRNA expression for the ASGPR H1 and H2 subunits in primary human renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (RPTEC), in the human proximal tubular epithelial cell line HK2, and in human renal cortex was investigated using reverse-transcribed nested polymerase chain reaction. ASGPR protein expression as well as ligand binding and uptake were also examined using confocal microscopy and flow cytometry (fluorescence-activated cell sorting). Results: Light microscopy of paraffin renal biopsy sections stained with a polyclonal antibody against the ASGPR showed proximal tubular epithelial cell staining of the cytoplasm and particularly in the basolateral region. Renal cortex and RPTEC specifically have mRNA for both H1 and H2 subunits of the ASGPR, but HK2 only expresses mRNA for H1. Using a monoclonal antibody, the presence of the ASGPR in RPTEC was shown by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and immunofluorescent staining. Specific binding and uptake of fluorescein isothiocyanate labelled asialofetuin which is a specific ASGPR ligand was also demonstrated in RPTEC. Conclusions: Primary renal proximal tubular epithelial cells have a functional ASGPR, consisting of the H1 and H2 subunits, that is capable of specific ligand binding and uptake.

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          The clearance of apoptotic cells in the liver is mediated by the asialoglycoprotein receptor.

          Apoptosing cells are actively phagocytosed in parenchymal tissues, thus preventing the inflammatory reaction which could derive from their slow uncontrolled degradation. The molecular mechanisms by which an apoptotic cell is recognized and taken up are largely unknown. We propose that the recognition of apoptotic hepatocytes is mediated by the sugar recognition systems of the liver, particularly the asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGP-R). The results presented here demonstrated the participation of ASGP-R in the removal of apoptotic parenchymal cells, and indicate a new perspective for the understanding of its physiological role.
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            Differential expression of the asialoglycoprotein receptor in discrete brain areas, in kidney and thyroid.

            The asyaloglycoprotein receptor is a dimer formed by two polypeptide chains abundantly expressed in the liver (RHL-1 and RHL-2). Using specific primers for the two polypeptide chains we measured, by semiquantitative reverse PCR (RT-PCR), the corresponding mRNAs in different rat tissues. We found that both RHL-1 and RHL-2 mRNAs are expressed in the liver, kidney, brain and thyroid. Under the same conditions we did not detect any specific mRNA in the spleen. In the brain these sequences are expressed along a posterior-anterior gradient. Cerebellum and brainstem display the highest expression of the brain RHL-1 and RHL-2 mRNAs. Tissues and regional distribution of this receptor suggest that other body districts besides liver may participate in the clearance of serum glycoproteins.

              Author and article information

              S. Karger AG
              July 2002
              01 July 2002
              : 91
              : 3
              : 431-438
              Departments of aRenal Medicine and bClinical Research, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore, Singapore
              64283 Nephron 2002;91:431–438
              © 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel

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              Figures: 5, References: 32, Pages: 8
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