The atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) isotypes PKCλ/ι and PKCζ are both expressed in podocytes; however, little is known about differences in their function. Previous studies in mice have demonstrated that podocyte-specific loss of PKCλ/ι leads to a severe glomerular phenotype, whereas mice deficient in PKCζ develop no renal phenotype. We analyzed various effects caused by PKCλ/ι and PKCζ deficiency in cultured murine podocytes. In contrast to PKCζ-deficient podocytes, PKCλ/ι-deficient podocytes exhibited a severe actin cytoskeletal phenotype, reduced cell size, decreased number of focal adhesions, and increased activation of small GTPases. Comparative microarray analysis revealed that the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Def-6 was specifically up-regulated in PKCλ/ι-deficient podocytes. In vivo Def-6 expression is significantly increased in podocytes of PKCλ/ι-deficient mice. Cultured PKCλ/ι-deficient podocytes exhibited an enhanced membrane association of Def-6, indicating enhanced activation. Overexpression of aPKCλ/ι in PKCλ/ι-deficient podocytes could reduce the membrane-associated expression of Def-6 and rescue the actin phenotype. In the present study, PKCλ/ι was identified as an important factor for actin cytoskeletal regulation in podocytes and Def-6 as a specific downstream target of PKCλ/ι that regulates the activity of small GTPases and subsequently the actin cytoskeleton of podocytes.
Copyright © 2013 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.