High glucose reduces megalin-mediated albumin endocytosis in renal proximal tubule cells through protein kinase B O-GlcNAcylation

J Biol Chem. 2018 Jul 20;293(29):11388-11400. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA117.001337. Epub 2018 Jun 5.


The role of albumin reabsorption in proximal tubule (PT) cells has emerged as an important factor in the genesis of albuminuria observed in the early stages of diabetes. Evidence has shown that a decrease in megalin expression could be the key mechanism in this process. In the present work, we investigated the molecular mechanism underlying the modulation of albumin endocytosis in LLC-PK1 cells, a model of PT cells. High glucose concentrations (HG) inhibited megalin expression and albumin endocytosis after 48 h of incubation. This inhibitory effect involves the entrance of glucose into PT cells through SGLT located at the luminal membrane. Once inside PT cells, glucose is diverted to the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway (HBP) increasing O-GlcNAcylation of several intracellular proteins, including PKB. This process promotes the inhibition of PKB activity measured by its phosphorylation at Thr-308 and Ser-473 and phosphorylation of specific substrates, glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) and tuberous sclerosis complex 2. The decrease in PKB activity led to a decrease in megalin expression and, consequently, reducing albumin endocytosis in LLC-PK1 cells. HG did not change mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) C2 activity, responsible for phosphorylated PKB at Ser-473. In addition, HG activated the mTORC1/S6K pathway, but this effect was not correlated to the decrease in megalin expression or albumin endocytosis. Taken together, our data help to clarify the current understanding underlying the genesis of tubular albuminuria induced by hyperglycemia in the early stage of diabetes pathogenesis.

Keywords: Akt PKB; O-GlcNAcylation; albumin endocytosis; diabetic nephropathy; high glucose; kidney; mTOR complex (mTORC); megalin expression; proximal tubule; signal transduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acylation
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / metabolism
  • Endocytosis*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / cytology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / metabolism*
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-2 / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / metabolism*
  • Sus scrofa


  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-2
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Glucose