Collagen receptors integrin alpha2beta1 and discoidin domain receptor 1 regulate maturation of the glomerular basement membrane and loss of integrin alpha2beta1 delays kidney fibrosis in COL4A3 knockout mice

Matrix Biol. 2014 Feb;34:13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2014.01.006. Epub 2014 Jan 27.


Maturation of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) is essential for maintaining the integrity of the renal filtration barrier. Impaired maturation causes proteinuria and renal fibrosis in the type IV collagen disease Alport syndrome. This study evaluates the role of collagen receptors in maturation of the GBM, matrix accumulation and renal fibrosis by using mice deficient for discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1), integrin subunit α2 (ITGA2), and type IV collagen α3 (COL4A3). Loss of both collagen receptors DDR1 and integrin α2β1 delays maturation of the GBM: due to a porous GBM filtration barrier high molecular weight proteinuria that more than doubles between day 60 and day 100. Thereafter, maturation of the GBM causes proteinuria to drop down to one tenth until day 200. Proteinuria and the porous GBM cause accumulation of glomerular and tubulointerstitial matrix, which both decrease significantly after GBM-maturation until day 250. In parallel, in a disease with impaired GBM-maturation such as Alport syndrome, loss of integrin α2β1 positively delays renal fibrosis: COL4A3(-/-)/ITGA2(-/-) double knockouts exhibited reduced proteinuria and urea nitrogen compared to COL4A3(-/-)/ITGA2(+/-) and COL4A3(-/-)/ITGA2(+/+) mice. The double knockouts lived 20% longer and showed less glomerular and tubulointerstitial extracellular matrix deposition than the COL4A3(-/-) Alport mice with normal integrin α2β1 expression. Electron microscopy illustrated improvements in the glomerular basement membrane structure. MMP2, MMP9, MMP12 and TIMP1 were expressed at significantly higher levels (compared to wild-type mice) in COL4A3(-/-)/ITGA2(+/+) Alport mice, but not in COL4A3(+/+)/ITGA2(-/-) mice. In conclusion, the collagen receptors DDR1 and integrin α2β1 contribute to regulate GBM-maturation and to control matrix accumulation. As demonstrated in the type IV collagen disease Alport syndrome, glomerular cell-matrix interactions via collagen receptors play an important role in the progression of renal fibrosis.

Keywords: Alport syndrome; Collagen receptors; Integrins; Renal fibrosis; Type IV collagen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discoidin Domain Receptors
  • Extracellular Matrix / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology
  • Fibrosis / genetics*
  • Fibrosis / pathology
  • Glomerular Basement Membrane / growth & development
  • Glomerular Basement Membrane / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha2beta1 / genetics*
  • Integrin alpha2beta1 / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney Glomerulus / growth & development*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nephritis, Hereditary / genetics
  • Nephritis, Hereditary / pathology
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Collagen / genetics
  • Receptors, Collagen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Mitogen / biosynthesis*


  • Integrin alpha2beta1
  • Receptors, Collagen
  • Receptors, Mitogen
  • Discoidin Domain Receptors
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases