Podocytes are highly specialized cells that make up a major portion of the glomerular filtration barrier in the kidney. They are also believed to play a pivotal role in the progression of chronic renal disease due to diverse causes that include diabetes (3, 20, 24) and aging (1, 7). Despite the importance of podocytes for kidney function and disease, studies of this cell type have been hindered due to a lack of model systems. Recently, the gene responsible for congenital Finnish nephropathy was identified and named nephrin (13). Nephrin expression is restricted to slit diaphragms of podocytes (11, 30). Infants with congenital Finnish nephropathy develop massive proteinuria and subsequent kidney failure due to podocyte injury. We have identified a 1.25-kb DNA fragment from the human nephrin promoter and 5'-flanking region that is capable of directing podocyte-specific expression in transgenic mice; this represents the first glomerular-specific promoter to be identified. Use of this transgene will facilitate studies of the podocyte in vivo and allow the identification of transacting factors that are required for podocyte-specific expression.
- Tissue-specific expression
ASJC Scopus subject areas