MHC class II, antigen presentation and tumor necrosis factor in renal tubular epithelial cells

Kidney Int. 1990 Feb;37(2):783-92. doi: 10.1038/ki.1990.46.


Proximal tubular (PT) epithelial cells express MHC class II (Ia) antigens in immunologically-mediated renal injury. To study the role of PT as accessory cells, we generated several murine PT-like epithelial cell lines by transformation with origin-defective SV40 DNA. These transformed cell lines display typical alkaline phosphatase and gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase enzyme activity, proliferation to epidermal growth factor (EGF) and sodium-dependent glucose uptake. Clonal lines of transformed tubular cells from both normal C3H/FeJ and autoimmune MRL-lpr mice do not constitutively express Ia antigens or mRNA for class II. However, stimulation with recombinant interferon-gamma(rIFN-gamma) induces Ia mRNA and surface product in the cell lines. These Ia-positive cells can process and present hen egg-white lysozyme (HEL) to antigen-specific Iak-restricted T cell hybrids. Unstimulated tubular cells do not express detectable IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, TNA-alpha, or IL-6 mRNA. However, stimulation with IL-1 alpha or LPS induces TNF-alpha transcripts. We conclude that these cell lines have characteristics most consistent with a proximal tubular origin. They also bear characteristics of accessory cells such as processing and presentation of antigen and TNF-alpha gene expression. We speculate that PT have the capacity to participate in the pathogenesis of immune renal injury.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Clone Cells
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules / cytology
  • Kidney Tubules / immunology*
  • Kidney Tubules / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha