Marked familial aggregation of chronic kidney disease suggests that inherited factors play a major role in nephropathy susceptibility. Molecular genetics analyses have identified a number of genes reproducibly associated with a broad range of renal phenotypes. Most associations show polygenic inheritance patterns with limited effect size. In contrast, genetic association between the apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) gene and several severe nondiabetic forms of kidney disease in African Americans approach Mendelian inheritance patterns and account for a large proportion of glomerulosclerosis in populations of African ancestry. Emerging data support an important role for APOL1 in the progression of diverse etiologies of kidney disease, in concert with requisite environmental (gene*environment) and inherited (gene*gene) interactions. This article reviews the current status of APOL1-associated nephropathy and discusses research questions under active investigation in the search for a cure for these severe and often progressive kidney diseases.
Keywords: APOL1; African American; FSGS; HIV; kidney disease; progression.
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