Co-localization of nephrin, podocin, and the actin cytoskeleton: evidence for a role in podocyte foot process formation

Am J Pathol. 2002 Oct;161(4):1459-66. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)64421-5.


The discovery of the genes for nephrin and podocin, which are mutated in two types of congenital nephrotic syndrome, was pivotal in establishing the podocyte as the central component of the glomerular filtration barrier. In vivo the proteins have been localized to the podocyte slit diaphragm, and there is recent evidence for interaction between the two via the adapter molecule CD2AP. We describe in a human podocyte cell line, the subcellular distribution of nephrin, podocins, and CD2AP and their functional interaction with the cytoskeleton. In addition to membrane expression, nephrin and podocin were detected intracellularly in a filamentous pattern. Double immunolabeling and depolymerization studies showed that nephrin and podocin partially co-localize with actin, most strikingly seen protruding from the tips of actin filaments, and are dependent on intact actin polymers for their intracellular distribution. Treatment of differentiated podocytes with puromycin aminonucleoside, an agent that causes foot process effacement in vivo, disrupted actin and nephrin simultaneously, with loss of cell surface localization. We demonstrate an intimate relationship between nephrin podocin and filamentous actin, and reason that disruption of nephrin/podocin could be a final common pathway leading to foot process effacement in proteinuric diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis*
  • Actins / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry*
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Kidney Glomerulus / cytology
  • Kidney Glomerulus / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Proteins / genetics


  • Actins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NPHS2 protein
  • Proteins
  • nephrin