Calcium-Sensing Receptor Stimulation in Cultured Glomerular Podocytes Induces TRPC6-Dependent Calcium Entry and RhoA Activation

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017;43(5):1777-1789. doi: 10.1159/000484064. Epub 2017 Oct 19.


Background/aims: Recent studies provided compelling evidence that stimulation of the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) exerts direct renoprotective action at the glomerular podocyte level. This protective action may be attributed to the RhoA-dependent stabilization of the actin cytoskeleton. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear.

Methods: In the present study, an immortalized human podocyte cell line was used. Fluo-3 fluorescence was utilized to determine intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), and western blotting was used to measure canonical transient receptor potential 6 (TRPC6) protein expression and RhoA activity. Stress fibers were detected by FITC-phalloidin.

Results: Activating CaSR with a high extracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]o) or R-568 (a type II CaSR agonist) induces an increase in the [Ca2+]i in a dose-dependent manner. This increase in [Ca2+]i is phospholipase C (PLC)-dependent and is smaller in the absence of extracellular Ca2+ than in the presence of 0.5 mM [Ca2+]o. The CaSR activation-induced [Ca2+]i increase is attenuated by the pharmacological blockage of TRPC6 channels or siRNA targeting TRPC6. These data suggest that TRPC6 is involved in CaSR activation-induced Ca2+ influx. Consistent with a previous study, CaSR stimulation results in an increase in RhoA activity. However, the knockdown of TRPC6 significantly abolished the RhoA activity increase induced by CaSR stimulation, suggesting that TRPC6-dependent Ca2+ entry is required for RhoA activation. The activated RhoA is involved in the formation of stress fibers and focal adhesions in response to CaSR stimulation because siRNA targeting RhoA attenuated the increase in the stress fiber mediated by CaSR stimulation. Moreover, this effect of CaSR activation on the formation of stress fibers is also abolished by the knockdown of TRPC6.

Conclusion: TRPC6 is involved in the regulation of stress fiber formation and focal adhesions via the RhoA pathway in response to CaSR activation. This may explain the direct protective action of CaSR agonists.

Keywords: Calcium-sensing receptor; Podocytes; RhoA; Trpc6.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Kidney Glomerulus / cytology*
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Podocytes / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • TRPC6 Cation Channel / genetics
  • TRPC6 Cation Channel / metabolism*
  • rhoA GTP-Binding Protein / genetics
  • rhoA GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing
  • TRPC6 Cation Channel
  • rhoA GTP-Binding Protein
  • Calcium