ADAMTS16 (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs) is a secreted mammalian metalloproteinase with unknown function. We report here that murine Adamts16 is co-expressed with the Wilms tumor protein, Wt1, in the developing glomeruli of embryonic kidneys. Adamts16 mRNA levels were significantly reduced upon transfection of embryonic murine kidney explants with Wt1 antisense vivo-morpholinos. Antisense knockdown of Adamts16 inhibited branching morphogenesis in kidney organ cultures. Adamts16 was detected by in situ mRNA hybridization and/or immunohistochemistry also in embryonic gonads and in spermatids and granulosa cells of adult testes and ovaries, respectively. Silencing of Wt1 by transfection with antisense vivo-morpholinos significantly increased Adamts16 mRNA in cultured embryonic XY gonads (11.5 and 12.5 days postconception), and reduced Adamts16 transcripts in XX gonads (12.5 and 13.5 days postconception). Three predicted Wt1 consensus motifs could be identified in the promoter and the 5'-untranslated region of the murine Adamts16 gene. Binding of Wt1 protein to these elements was verified by EMSA and ChIP. A firefly luciferase reporter gene under control of the Adamts16 promoter was activated ∼8-fold by transient co-transfection of human granulosa cells with a Wt1 expression construct. Gradual shortening of the 5'-flanking sequence successively reduced and eventually abrogated Adamts16 promoter activation by Wt1. These findings demonstrate that Wt1 differentially regulates the Adamts16 gene in XX and XY embryonic gonads. It is suggested that Adamts16 acts immediately downstream of Wt1 during murine urogenital development. We propose that Adamts16 is involved in branching morphogenesis of the kidneys in mice.
Keywords: ADAM ADAMTS; Development; Gene Expression; Gene Regulation; Gene Silencing; Gene Transcription; Transcription Factors; Transcription Target Genes; Tumor Suppressor Gene.