Signalling pathways to Proteinuria

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Clinical Science at North Bristol

Abstract

A major factor in morbidity and mortality worldwide is end stage renal disease (ESRD). The UK currently has around 40,000 patients on renal replacement therapy, over 650 per million population, at a cost of over £700 million per year resulting in 2% of the NHS budget being spent on less that 0.1 % of the population. At least 10% of ESRD is caused by steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS). This devastating disease is typically associated with oedema, proteinuria, hypertension, microscopic haematuria, and renal insufficiency and usually leads to end stage renal failure despite the use of prolonged and toxic immunosuppression. A difficult and intriguing aspect of SRNS is that in many cases, it will recur following kidney transplantation. The incidence of SRNS, which is particularly common in children, has increased markedly recently with the latest epidemiological study showing a dramatic increase in SRNS as a proportion of primary glomerulopathy from 17 to 59% between 1992 and 2002. Although the cause of SRNS is still unknown, the fact that up to 60% of patients who receive a first kidney transplant to treat their SRNS, experience recurrence of the condition suggests that the cause is not just a result of intrinsic kidney disease. The recurrence of the disease in transplanted patients (often within minutes or hours of the graft being perfused) and the fact that immunosuppressive drug therapy and plasma exchange have proven to be useful in treating the recurrence of SRNS led to the 'circulating toxic factor hypothesis' in the pathogenesis of the disease.
The kidney filtration barrier is made up of two cell types: glomerular endothelial cells and podocytes. We have and others have shown that the podocyte is specifically damaged in SRNS and also provided robust evidence that the toxic SRNS factor belongs to a class of proteins known as proteases. Proteases bind to specific receptors (PARs) on the surface of cells leading to changes in cell biology. The purpose ofthis application is to (1) identify changes in proteases in the plasma of patients with SRNS (2) study the role of PARs in the modulation of podocyte cell health(3) identify the cellular signalling pathways that mediate these effects.
Identifying the cellular mechanisms underlying the development of SRNS is essential given its clinical importance and is a critical step in designing and developing targeted therapeutic approaches to deal with this problem.

Technical Summary

The leading cause of acquired end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in children is Steroid Resistant Nephrotic Syndrome (SRNS). This is as devastating disease which usually leads to end stage renal failure despite the use of prolonged and toxic immunosuppression. The recurrence of the disease in transplanted patients (often within minutes or hours of the graft being perfused), the fact that immunosuppressive drug therapy and plasma exchange have proven to be useful in treating the recurrence of SRNS and the case of transient nephrotic syndrome in a newborn whose mother had SRNS has led to the the 'circulating factor hypothesis' in the pathogenesis of the disease with the speculation of a toxic 'SRNS factor' that has deleterious effects on the kidney podocyte . Observations by ourselves and others are shedding light on novel disease mechanisms linking the activation of protease receptors, especially PAR1, and signalling to the podocyte cytoskeleton, which results in changes in podocyte motility and in breakdown of filtration.
We wish to demonstrate the role of proteases and PAR1 activation in the pathogenesis of SRNS, characterize the cellular effects of PAR1 activation on podocyte biology and identify the downstream signalling pathways involved with particular emphasis on the role of the cation channel TRPC6 and the small GTPase RhoA. We propose to investigate this pathway comprehensively by (1) mapping the protease substrate specificities of our relapse and remission patient samples, (2) generating a transgenic mouse expressing constitutively active PAR1, inducibly, in a podocyte specific distribution (3) using unique patient samples, TRPC6 knockout podocytes, constitutively active and dominant-negative RhoA constructs and Rho kinase inhibitors to delineate signalling pathways activated by diseased plasma.
Understanding the cellular mechanisms underlying podocyte damage in SRNS is a critical step in designing and developing new therapeutic approaches.

Planned Impact

Realising the objective of this programme of research will benefit the following groups:
1. Biomedical scientists wishing to understand the normal biochemistry and physiology of the kidney especially those interested in the mechanisms through which the glomerular filtration barrier is maintained and regulated.
2. Biochemists seeking to understand the regulation of actin dynamics and the intra and inter molecular interactions of proteins.
3. Patients with glomerular disease and clinicians - The main non-academic beneficiaries will be patients with kidney disease, which is an ever-growing scourge in the developed world with major health economic implications. Improved understanding of the normal biochemistry and physiology of the kidney will in the future lead to further identification of the causes of proteinuria and kidney disease. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the normal functioning of the glomerular filtration barrier does have the potential to lead to new targets/diagnostics/possible therapeutic interventions that impact on this community by combating both kidney failure and also associated cardiovascular disease. The likely timescale for this is 5-10 years. We have numerous industrial links especially with Evotec and these companies are actively working towards anti-proteinuric therapies. We will be ideally placed to share in the development and testing of new agents. We have clinical trial experience alongside our laboratory track record: the PIs in the Academic Renal Unit include 4 academic clinicians who can lead translational application of this work.
4. The general public. The other non-academic beneficiaries will be the public: we are committed to public engagement and the PIs have many years of experience between them of addressing lay groups including patients, carers and the general public. The SRNS Rare Disease Group is a national group with multiprofessional and lay membership, led by Professor Saleem, and organises annual or biannual patient away days.
5. Patient organizations and Charities- specific charities and patient organisations such as Kidney Research UK and the nephrotic syndrome trust (NeST) will be better able to inform patients about research that will benefit their own disease in the next 5-10 years.
6. Industry - by forming additional partnerships with industrial/pharmaceutical companies we will develop new assays and drug/compound pipelines based on new regulatory mechanisms in the podocyte that we identify in this programme, thus creating commercial opportunities for a worldwide market.
7. The UK economy. The UK currently has over 40,000 patients on renal replacement therapies, around 700 per million population, total cost over £700 million per year, over 2% of NHS budget being spent on 0.1% of the population. Recent UK government figures show that chronic kidney disease affects at least 3% of the population. New understanding of the normal functioning of the glomerualr filtration barrier will lead to new research avenues in to the causes of glomerular diseases.

Publications

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Keir LS (2017) VEGF regulates local inhibitory complement proteins in the eye and kidney. in The Journal of clinical investigation

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Saleem MA (2015) One hundred ways to kill a podocyte. in Nephrology, dialysis, transplantation : official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association - European Renal Association

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Saleem MA (2016) Cell biology and genetics of minimal change disease. in F1000Research

 
Description Stratified Medicine
Amount £3,140,000 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/R013942/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 05/2022
 
Title PAR-1 active podocyte specific transgenic mouse 
Description model of proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis that mimics human circulating factor nephrotic syndrome 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - mammalian in vivo 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Collaboration with UCB for testing of new antifibrotic compounds 
 
Description NURTuRE - the National Unified Renal Translational Research Enterprise 
Organisation AbbVie Inc
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I initiated and lead (with Professor Maarten Taal) this national resource and infrastructure. This is a national network of renal research nurses recruiting patients to 2 pilot cohorts, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Idiopathic Nephrotic Syndrome (INS). Alongside detailed ongoing clinical phenotyping, there is a comprehensive biorepository, with patient samples stored at the UK Biobank in Milton Keynes. Funding has been obtained from a pre-competitive industry partnership (£2.2M to date), and governance is provided independently by Kidney Research UK
Collaborator Contribution I initiated the concept and brought together the partners, in order to establish the funding and governance of this national infrastructure. The formation of a national renal biorepository fits with one of the main objectives of the UK Renal Research Strategy published by the Renal Association.
Impact MRC Stratified Medicine award. Publications in Journal of Kidney Care, Open Journal of Bioresources. Further industry investment. MRC Global Challenges Award.
Start Year 2016
 
Description NURTuRE - the National Unified Renal Translational Research Enterprise 
Organisation Evotec
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I initiated and lead (with Professor Maarten Taal) this national resource and infrastructure. This is a national network of renal research nurses recruiting patients to 2 pilot cohorts, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Idiopathic Nephrotic Syndrome (INS). Alongside detailed ongoing clinical phenotyping, there is a comprehensive biorepository, with patient samples stored at the UK Biobank in Milton Keynes. Funding has been obtained from a pre-competitive industry partnership (£2.2M to date), and governance is provided independently by Kidney Research UK
Collaborator Contribution I initiated the concept and brought together the partners, in order to establish the funding and governance of this national infrastructure. The formation of a national renal biorepository fits with one of the main objectives of the UK Renal Research Strategy published by the Renal Association.
Impact MRC Stratified Medicine award. Publications in Journal of Kidney Care, Open Journal of Bioresources. Further industry investment. MRC Global Challenges Award.
Start Year 2016
 
Description NURTuRE - the National Unified Renal Translational Research Enterprise 
Organisation Kidney Research UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I initiated and lead (with Professor Maarten Taal) this national resource and infrastructure. This is a national network of renal research nurses recruiting patients to 2 pilot cohorts, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Idiopathic Nephrotic Syndrome (INS). Alongside detailed ongoing clinical phenotyping, there is a comprehensive biorepository, with patient samples stored at the UK Biobank in Milton Keynes. Funding has been obtained from a pre-competitive industry partnership (£2.2M to date), and governance is provided independently by Kidney Research UK
Collaborator Contribution I initiated the concept and brought together the partners, in order to establish the funding and governance of this national infrastructure. The formation of a national renal biorepository fits with one of the main objectives of the UK Renal Research Strategy published by the Renal Association.
Impact MRC Stratified Medicine award. Publications in Journal of Kidney Care, Open Journal of Bioresources. Further industry investment. MRC Global Challenges Award.
Start Year 2016
 
Description NURTuRE - the National Unified Renal Translational Research Enterprise 
Organisation UCB Pharma
Department UCB Celltech
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I initiated and lead (with Professor Maarten Taal) this national resource and infrastructure. This is a national network of renal research nurses recruiting patients to 2 pilot cohorts, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Idiopathic Nephrotic Syndrome (INS). Alongside detailed ongoing clinical phenotyping, there is a comprehensive biorepository, with patient samples stored at the UK Biobank in Milton Keynes. Funding has been obtained from a pre-competitive industry partnership (£2.2M to date), and governance is provided independently by Kidney Research UK
Collaborator Contribution I initiated the concept and brought together the partners, in order to establish the funding and governance of this national infrastructure. The formation of a national renal biorepository fits with one of the main objectives of the UK Renal Research Strategy published by the Renal Association.
Impact MRC Stratified Medicine award. Publications in Journal of Kidney Care, Open Journal of Bioresources. Further industry investment. MRC Global Challenges Award.
Start Year 2016
 
Description NURTuRE - the National Unified Renal Translational Research Enterprise 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I initiated and lead (with Professor Maarten Taal) this national resource and infrastructure. This is a national network of renal research nurses recruiting patients to 2 pilot cohorts, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Idiopathic Nephrotic Syndrome (INS). Alongside detailed ongoing clinical phenotyping, there is a comprehensive biorepository, with patient samples stored at the UK Biobank in Milton Keynes. Funding has been obtained from a pre-competitive industry partnership (£2.2M to date), and governance is provided independently by Kidney Research UK
Collaborator Contribution I initiated the concept and brought together the partners, in order to establish the funding and governance of this national infrastructure. The formation of a national renal biorepository fits with one of the main objectives of the UK Renal Research Strategy published by the Renal Association.
Impact MRC Stratified Medicine award. Publications in Journal of Kidney Care, Open Journal of Bioresources. Further industry investment. MRC Global Challenges Award.
Start Year 2016
 
Description National Nephrotic Syndrome Patients' Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact National patient day - presentations, Q+A, and tours of research labs
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017