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      The Importance of Podocyte Adhesion for a Healthy Glomerulus

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          Podocytes are specialized epithelial cells that cover the outer surfaces of glomerular capillaries. Unique cell junctions, known as slit diaphragms, which feature nephrin and Neph family proteins in addition to components of adherens, tight, and gap junctions, connect adjacent podocyte foot processes. Single gene disorders affecting the slit diaphragm result in nephrotic syndrome in humans, characterized by massive loss of protein across the capillary wall. In addition to specialized cell junctions, interconnecting podocytes also adhere to the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) of the capillary wall. The GBM is a dense network of secreted, extracellular matrix (ECM) components and contains tissue-restricted isoforms of collagen IV and laminin in addition to other structural proteins and ECM regulators such as proteases and growth factors. The specialized niche of the GBM provides a scaffold for endothelial cells and podocytes to support their unique functions and human genetic mutations in GBM components lead to renal failure, thus highlighting the importance of cell–matrix interactions in the glomerulus. Cells adhere to ECM via adhesion receptors, including integrins, syndecans, and dystroglycan and in particular the integrin heterodimer α3β1 is required to maintain barrier integrity. Therefore, the sophisticated function of glomerular filtration relies on podocyte adhesion both at cell junctions and at the interface with the ECM. In health, the podocyte coordinates signals from cell junctions and cell–matrix interactions, in response to environmental cues in order to regulate filtration and as our understanding of mechanisms that control cell adhesion in the glomerulus develops, then insight into the effects of disease will improve. The ultimate goal will be to develop targeted therapies to prevent or repair defects in the filtration barrier and to restore glomerular function.

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          Most cited references 177

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          Integrin ligands at a glance.

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            NPHS2, encoding the glomerular protein podocin, is mutated in autosomal recessive steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome.

            Familial idiopathic nephrotic syndromes represent a heterogeneous group of kidney disorders, and include autosomal recessive steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome, which is characterized by early childhood onset of proteinuria, rapid progression to end-stage renal disease and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. A causative gene for this disease, NPHS2, was mapped to 1q25-31 and we report here its identification by positional cloning. NPHS2 is almost exclusively expressed in the podocytes of fetal and mature kidney glomeruli, and encodes a new integral membrane protein, podocin, belonging to the stomatin protein family. We found ten different NPHS2 mutations, comprising nonsense, frameshift and missense mutations, to segregate with the disease, demonstrating a crucial role for podocin in the function of the glomerular filtration barrier.
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              Vinculin controls focal adhesion formation by direct interactions with talin and actin

              Focal adhesions (FAs) regulate cell migration. Vinculin, with its many potential binding partners, can interconnect signals in FAs. Despite the well-characterized structure of vinculin, the molecular mechanisms underlying its action have remained unclear. Here, using vinculin mutants, we separate the vinculin head and tail regions into distinct functional domains. We show that the vinculin head regulates integrin dynamics and clustering and the tail regulates the link to the mechanotransduction force machinery. The expression of vinculin constructs with unmasked binding sites in the head and tail regions induces dramatic FA growth, which is mediated by their direct interaction with talin. This interaction leads to clustering of activated integrin and an increase in integrin residency time in FAs. Surprisingly, paxillin recruitment, induced by active vinculin constructs, occurs independently of its potential binding site in the vinculin tail. The vinculin tail, however, is responsible for the functional link of FAs to the actin cytoskeleton. We propose a new model that explains how vinculin orchestrates FAs.

                Author and article information

                Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
                Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
                Front. Endocrinol.
                Frontiers in Endocrinology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                14 October 2014
                : 5
                1Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester , Manchester, UK
                2Institute of Human Development, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, The University of Manchester , Manchester, UK
                3Department of Paediatric Nephrology, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust , Manchester, UK
                Author notes

                Edited by: Gavin Iain Welsh, University of Bristol, UK

                Reviewed by: Hiroki Mizukami, Hirosaki University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan; Shinichi Oikawa, Nippon Medical School, Japan; Sanna Helena Lehtonen, University of Helsinki, Finland

                *Correspondence: Rachel Lennon, Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, The University of Manchester, Michael Smith Building, Manchester M13 9PT, UK e-mail: rachel.lennon@

                This article was submitted to Diabetes, a section of the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology.

                Copyright © 2014 Lennon, Randles and Humphries.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 7, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 202, Pages: 17, Words: 14689
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