The loss of podocyte (PD) molecular phenotype is an important feature of diabetic podocytopathy. We hypothesized that high glucose (HG) induces dedifferentiation in differentiated podocytes (DPDs) through alterations in the apolipoprotein (APO) L1-microRNA (miR) 193a axis. HG-induced DPD dedifferentiation manifested in the form of downregulation of Wilms' tumor 1 (WT1) and upregulation of paired box 2 (PAX2) expression. WT1-silenced DPDs displayed enhanced expression of PAX2. Immunoprecipitation of DPD cellular lysates with anti-WT1 antibody revealed formation of WT1 repressor complexes containing Polycomb group proteins, enhancer of zeste homolog 2, menin, and DNA methyltransferase (DNMT1), whereas silencing of either WT1 or DNMT1 disrupted this complex with enhanced expression of PAX2. HG-induced DPD dedifferentiation was associated with a higher expression of miR193a, whereas inhibition of miR193a prevented DPD dedifferentiation in HG milieu. HG downregulated DPD expression of APOL1. miR193a-overexpressing DPDs displayed downregulation of APOL1 and enhanced expression of dedifferentiating markers; conversely, silencing of miR193a enhanced the expression of APOL1 and preserved DPD phenotype. Moreover, stably APOL1G0-overexpressing DPDs displayed the enhanced expression of WT1 but attenuated expression of miR193a; nonetheless, silencing of APOL1 reversed these effects. Since silencing of APOL1 enhanced miR193a expression as well as dedifferentiation in DPDs, it appears that downregulation of APOL1 contributed to dedifferentiation of DPDs through enhanced miR193a expression in HG milieu. Vitamin D receptor agonist downregulated miR193a, upregulated APOL1 expression, and prevented dedifferentiation of DPDs in HG milieu. These findings suggest that modulation of the APOL1-miR193a axis carries a potential to preserve DPD molecular phenotype in HG milieu.
Keywords: APOL1; diabetic podocytopathy; high glucose; miR193a; podocyte dedifferentiation.