Background: Angiotensin II (Ang II), as a single factor, induces hypertrophy of cultured proximal tubular cells of various species. Cells undergoing hypertrophy are arrested in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Ang II also stimulated the expression of p27Kip1, an inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK). Although previous studies inhibiting p27Kip1 expression with antisense oligonucleotides suggested that this CDK inhibitor is important for Ang II-induced hypertrophy of proximal tubular cells, nonspecific effects of antisense technology, and the inability to transfect 100% of cells raised concerns about the true role of p27Kip1 in tubular hypertrophy.
Methods: Proximal tubular cells were isolated and cultured from wild-type (p27Kip1+/+) and knockout (p27Kip1-/-) mice. p27Kip1 genomic and protein expression was evaluated. Proximal tubular cell origin was confirmed by expression of various markers [3M-1 antigen, gamma-glutamyltransferase, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)]. Cell proliferation (cell number, 3[H]thymidine incorporation) and hypertrophy (de novo protein synthesis as measured by 3[H]leucine incorporation, hypertrophy index, cell size) were evaluated. CDK2 and CDK4 activities were determined by an in vitro kinase assay. In addition, cell cycle analysis was performed by flow cytometry. p27Kip1 expression was reconstituted in two different clones of p27Kip1-/- proximal tubular cells using an inducible vector system based on ecdysone response elements.
Results: In accordance with previous studies, 10-7 mol/L Ang II induces hypertrophy and cell cycle arrest of p27Kip1+/+ proximal tubular cells. In contrast, Ang II facilitated cell cycle progression of two p27Kip1-/- proximal tubular cell lines without inducing hypertrophy. Ang II activates CDK4/cyclin D kinase activity in p27Kip1+/+ and -/- tubular cells, but stimulates CDK2/cyclin E activity only in wild-type cells. However, in the presence of Ang II, reconstituting p27Kip1 expression in p27Kip1-/- tubular cells using an inducible expression system, restored G1 phase arrest and the hypertrophic phenotype. Ang II did not induce apoptosis of either p27Kip1+/+ or -/- tubular cells.
Conclusion: Our findings are the first clear evidence that p27Kip1 is required for Ang II-induced hypertrophy of proximal tubular cells. However, although p27Kip1 expression is an absolute requirement for this hypertrophy, reconstitution experiments revealed that other factors induced by Ang II contribute to this hypertrophy.