N-Degradomic Analysis Reveals a Proteolytic Network Processing the Podocyte Cytoskeleton

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2017 Oct;28(10):2867-2878. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2016101119. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


Regulated intracellular proteostasis, controlled in part by proteolysis, is essential in maintaining the integrity of podocytes and the glomerular filtration barrier of the kidney. We applied a novel proteomics technology that enables proteome-wide identification, mapping, and quantification of protein N-termini to comprehensively characterize cleaved podocyte proteins in the glomerulus in vivo We found evidence that defined proteolytic cleavage results in various proteoforms of important podocyte proteins, including those of podocin, nephrin, neph1, α-actinin-4, and vimentin. Quantitative mapping of N-termini demonstrated perturbation of protease action during podocyte injury in vitro, including diminished proteolysis of α-actinin-4. Differentially regulated protease substrates comprised cytoskeletal proteins as well as intermediate filaments. Determination of preferential protease motifs during podocyte damage indicated activation of caspase proteases and inhibition of arginine-specific proteases. Several proteolytic processes were clearly site-specific, were conserved across species, and could be confirmed by differential migration behavior of protein fragments in gel electrophoresis. Some of the proteolytic changes discovered in vitro also occurred in two in vivo models of podocyte damage (WT1 heterozygous knockout mice and puromycin aminonucleoside-treated rats). Thus, we provide direct and systems-level evidence that the slit diaphragm and podocyte cytoskeleton are regulated targets of proteolytic modification, which is altered upon podocyte damage.

Keywords: Cell Signaling; Pathophysiology of Renal Disease and Progression; cell biology and structure; intracellular signal; podocyte; signaling.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Podocytes / metabolism*
  • Proteolysis*
  • Proteome
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Rats


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Proteome