Inherited Tubulopathies of the Kidney: Insights from Genetics

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021 Apr 7;16(4):620-630. doi: 10.2215/CJN.14481119. Epub 2020 Apr 1.


The kidney tubules provide homeostasis by maintaining the external milieu that is critical for proper cellular function. Without homeostasis, there would be no heartbeat, no muscle movement, no thought, sensation, or emotion. The task is achieved by an orchestra of proteins, directly or indirectly involved in the tubular transport of water and solutes. Inherited tubulopathies are characterized by impaired function of one or more of these specific transport molecules. The clinical consequences can range from isolated alterations in the concentration of specific solutes in blood or urine to serious and life-threatening disorders of homeostasis. In this review, we focus on genetic aspects of the tubulopathies and how genetic investigations and kidney physiology have crossfertilized each other and facilitated the identification of these disorders and their molecular basis. In turn, clinical investigations of genetically defined patients have shaped our understanding of kidney physiology.

Keywords: Bartter-s syndrome; Emotions; Genomics; Homeostasis; Kidney; Kidney Tubules; Sensation; Series; Urinary Tract Physiological Phenomena; Water; kidney; kidney tubule; magnesium wasting disorders; nephrogenic diabetes insipidus; renal tubular acidosis; tubulopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Kidney Diseases / genetics*
  • Kidney Tubules*