COL4A3 mutations cause focal segmental glomerulosclerosis

J Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Dec;6(6):498-505. doi: 10.1093/jmcb/mju040.


Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a histologically identifiable glomerular injury often leading to proteinuria and renal failure. To identify its causal genes, whole-exome sequencing and Sanger sequencing were performed on a large Chinese cohort that comprised 40 FSGS families, 50 sporadic FSGS patients, 9 independent autosomal recessive Alport's syndrome (ARAS) patients, and 190 ethnically matched healthy controls. Patients with extrarenal manifestations, indicating systemic diseases or other known hereditary renal diseases, were excluded. Heterozygous COL4A3 mutations were identified in five (12.5%) FSGS families and one (2%) sporadic FSGS patient. All identified mutations disrupted highly conserved protein sequences and none of them was found in either public databases or the 190 healthy controls. Of the FSGS patients with heterozygous COL4A3 mutations, segmental thinning of the glomerular base membrane (GBM) was only detected in the patient with electronic microscopy examination results available. Five ARAS patients (55.6%) had homozygous or compound-heterozygous mutations in COL4A3 or COL4A4. Serious changes in the GBM, hearing loss, and ocular abnormalities were found in 100%, 80%, and 40% of the ARAS patients, respectively. Overall, a new subgroup of FSGS patients resulting from heterozygous COL4A3 mutations was identified. The mutations are relatively frequent in families diagnosed with inherited forms of FSGS. Thus, we suggest screening for COL4A3 mutations in familial FSGS patients.

Keywords: COL4A3; COL4A4; FSGS; mutation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantigens / genetics*
  • Autoantigens / metabolism
  • Collagen Type IV / genetics*
  • Collagen Type IV / metabolism
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / genetics*
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / metabolism
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Pedigree*


  • Autoantigens
  • COL4A4 protein, human
  • Collagen Type IV
  • type IV collagen alpha3 chain