Background: Ets-1 is a transactivator of matrix-associated genes and key factor in neoangiogenesis. The expression of Ets-1 mRNA and protein was analyzed in healthy rat kidney and in a model for mesangioproliferative disease without and with inhibition of platelet-derived growth factor-B (PDGF-B) activity.
Methods: Immunohistochemistry was performed using a specific noncrossreacting anti-Ets-1 antibody and included a counterstain with alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA). Nuclear proteins from isolated glomeruli were analyzed by Western blotting. Changes in Ets-1 mRNA levels were detected by in situ hybridization and Northern blotting. PDGF-B antagonism was performed in nephritic rats by specific aptamers.
Results: The distribution of Ets-1-positive cells in healthy rats was heterogenous with exclusively nuclear staining of glomerular, tubular, and vascular cells. Profound changes were detected in the anti-Thy 1.1 glomerulonephritis. Nuclear Ets-1 staining was intense in mesangial cells, whereas podocyte and endothelial cell staining was unchanged. The strongest signal was seen on days 2 to 7. By Western blotting of glomerular proteins a single 52 kD band was detected in healthy rats, which was increased 4.5-fold after disease induction. At the same time a 54 kD band appeared that most likely represents phosphorylated Ets-1. Ets-1 transcripts were detected in mesangial cells that include exon IV but lack exon VII. A concordant 6.4-fold up-regulation of mRNA was detected in glomeruli. Specific PDGF-B antagonism by aptamer treatment from days 3 to 7 after disease induction led to reduced Ets-1 expression on day 7, correlating with decreased mesangial cell numbers.
Conclusion: A temporal increase of mesangial cell Ets-1 expression correlates with mesangial cell activation in mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis. PDGF-B may partially contribute to the increased expression.