RNA-seq reveals altered gene expression levels in proximal tubular cell cultures compared to renal cortex but not during early glucotoxicity

Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 25;10(1):10390. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67361-3.


Cell cultures are often used to study physiological processes in health and disease. It is well-known that cells change their gene expression in vitro compared to in vivo, but it is rarely experimentally addressed. High glucose is a known trigger of apoptosis in proximal tubular cells (PTC). Here we used RNA-seq to detect differentially expressed genes in cultures of primary rat PTC, 3 days old, compared to cells retrieved directly from rat outer renal cortex and between PTC exposed to 15 mM glucose and control for 8 h. The expression of 6,174 genes was significantly up- or downregulated in the cultures of PTC compared to the cells in the outer renal cortex. Most altered were mitochondrial and metabolism related genes. Gene expression of proapoptotic proteins were upregulated and gene expression of antiapoptotic proteins were downregulated in PTC. Expression of transporter related genes were generally downregulated. After 8 h, high glucose had not altered the gene expression in PTC. The current study provides evidence that cells alter their gene expression in vitro compared to in vivo and suggests that short-term high glucose exposure can trigger apoptosis in PTC without changing the gene expression levels of apoptotic proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Kidney Cortex / drug effects
  • Kidney Cortex / metabolism*
  • Kidney Cortex / pathology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / metabolism*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / pathology
  • Male
  • RNA-Seq / methods*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacology


  • Sweetening Agents
  • Glucose