Key points: Progressive depletion of all vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) splice isoforms from the kidney results in proteinuria and increased glomerular water permeability, which are both rescued by over-expression of VEGF-A165 b only. VEGF-A165 b rescues the increase in glomerular basement membrane and podocyte slit width, as well as the decrease in sub-podocyte space coverage, produced by VEGF-A depletion. VEGF-A165 b restores the expression of platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule in glomerular endothelial cells and glomerular capillary circumference. VEGF-A165 b has opposite effects to VEGF-A165 on the expression of genes involved in endothelial cell migration and proliferation.
Abstract: Chronic kidney disease is strongly associated with a decrease in the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A). However, little is known about the contribution of VEGF-A splice isoforms to kidney physiology and pathology. Previous studies suggest that the splice isoform VEGF-A165 b (resulting from alternative usage of a 3' splice site in the terminal exon) is protective for kidney function. In the present study, we show, in a quad-transgenic model, that over-expression of VEGF-A165 b alone is sufficient to rescue the increase in proteinuria, as well as glomerular water permeability, in the context of progressive depletion of all VEGF-A isoforms from the podocytes. Ultrastructural studies show that the glomerular basement membrane is thickened, podocyte slit width is increased and sub-podocyte space coverage is reduced when VEGF-A is depleted, all of which are rescued in VEGF-A165 b over-expressors. VEGF-A165 b restores the expression of platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 in glomerular endothelial cells and glomerular capillary circumference. Mechanistically, it increases VEGF receptor 2 expression both in vivo and in vitro and down-regulates genes involved in migration and proliferation of endothelial cells, otherwise up-regulated by the canonical isoform VEGF-A165 . The results of the present study indicate that manipulation of VEGF-A splice isoforms could be a novel therapeutic avenue in chronic glomerular disease.
Keywords: alternative splicing; reno-protection; vascular endothelial growth factor.
© 2017 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Physiological Society.