HIV-1-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is a common complication of HIV-1 infection, and its skewed incidence in certain ethnic groups suggests that there is a genetic basis to HIVAN susceptibility. In their study reported in this issue of the JCI, Papeta and colleagues used a combination of gene expression profiling and linkage analysis to identify three genomic loci that regulate a network of genes expressed by podocytes - cells that are crucial to the filtration of fluid and waste by the kidney (see the related article beginning on page 1178). Surprisingly, two of these loci confer disease susceptibility in a transgenic mouse model of HIVAN. This report confirms the central role of podocytes in the pathogenesis of HIVAN and demonstrates the power of this combination of genomic analysis techniques in elucidating the pathogenesis of glomerular disease.
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