Receptor-mediated endocytosis plays an important role in albumin reabsorption by renal proximal tubule epithelial cells. Kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1) is a scavenger receptor that is upregulated on the apical membrane of proximal tubules in proteinuric kidney disease. In this study, we examined the cellular localization and functional role of KIM-1 in cultured renal tubule epithelial cells (TECs). Confocal immunofluorescence microscopy reveals intracellular and cell surface localization of KIM-1 in primary renal TECs. Albumin stimulation resulted in a redistribution of KIM-1 and tight junction protein zonula occludens-1 in primary TEC monolayer. An increase in albumin internalization was observed in both primary TECs expressing endogenous KIM-1 and rat kidney cell line (NRK-52E) overexpressing exogenous KIM-1. KIM-1-induced albumin accumulation was abolished by its specific antibody. Moreover, endocytosed KIM-1 and its cargo proteins were delivered from endosomes to lysosomes for degradation in a clathrin-dependent pathway. Supportive evidence includes (1) detection of KIM-1 in Rab5-positive early endosomes, Rab7-positive late endosomes/multivesicular bodies, and LAMP1-positive lysosomes, (2) colocalization of KIM-1 and clathrin in the intracellular vesicles, and (3) blockade of KIM-1-mediated albumin internalization by chlorpromazine, an inhibitor of clathrin-dependent endocytosis. KIM-1 expression was upregulated by albumin but downregulated by transforming growth factor-β1. Taken together, our data indicate that KIM-1 increases albumin endocytosis in renal tubule epithelial cells, at least partially via a clathrin-dependent mechanism. J. Cell. Physiol. 231: 896-907, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.