Actin Filament Organization of Foot Processes in Vertebrate Glomerular Podocytes

Cell Tissue Res. 2007 Sep;329(3):541-57. doi: 10.1007/s00441-007-0440-4. Epub 2007 Jun 29.


We investigated the actin filament organization and immunolocalization of actin-binding proteins (alpha-actinin and cortactin) in the podocyte foot processes of eight vertebrate species (lamprey, carp, newt, frog, gecko, turtle, quail, and rat). Three types of actin cytoskeleton were found in these foot processes. (1) A cortical actin network with cortactin filling the space between the plasma membrane and the other actin cytoskeletons described below was found in all of the species examined here. The data indicated that the cortical actin network was the minimal essential actin cytoskeleton for the formation and maintenance of the foot processes in vertebrate podocytes. (2) An actin bundle with alpha-actinin existing along the longitudinal axis of foot process above the level of slit diaphragms was only observed in quail and rat. (3) An actin fascicle consisting of much fewer numbers of actin filaments than that of the actin bundle was observed in the species other than quail and rat, but at various frequencies. These findings suggest that the actin bundle is an additional actin cytoskeleton reflecting a functional state peculiar to quail and rat glomeruli. Considering the higher intraglomerular pressure and the extremely thin filtration barrier in birds and mammals, the foot processes probably mainly protect the thinner filtration barrier from the higher internal pressure occurring in quail and rat glomeruli. Therefore, we consider that the actin bundle plays a crucial role in the mechanical protection of the filtration barrier. Moreover, the actin fascicle may be a potential precursor of the actin bundle.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Actinin / analysis
  • Actinin / metabolism
  • Actinin / ultrastructure
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Actins / ultrastructure*
  • Animals
  • Cortactin / analysis
  • Cortactin / metabolism
  • Cortactin / ultrastructure
  • Kidney Glomerulus / chemistry
  • Kidney Glomerulus / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Podocytes / chemistry
  • Podocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Vertebrates


  • Actins
  • Cortactin
  • Actinin