SRGAP1 Controls Small Rho GTPases To Regulate Podocyte Foot Process Maintenance

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021 Mar;32(3):563-579. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2020081126. Epub 2021 Jan 29.


Background: Previous research demonstrated that small Rho GTPases, modulators of the actin cytoskeleton, are drivers of podocyte foot-process effacement in glomerular diseases, such as FSGS. However, a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory networks of small Rho GTPases in podocytes is lacking.

Methods: We conducted an analysis of podocyte transcriptome and proteome datasets for Rho GTPases; mapped in vivo, podocyte-specific Rho GTPase affinity networks; and examined conditional knockout mice and murine disease models targeting Srgap1. To evaluate podocyte foot-process morphology, we used super-resolution microscopy and electron microscopy; in situ proximity ligation assays were used to determine the subcellular localization of the small GTPase-activating protein SRGAP1. We performed functional analysis of CRISPR/Cas9-generated SRGAP1 knockout podocytes in two-dimensional and three-dimensional cultures and quantitative interaction proteomics.

Results: We demonstrated SRGAP1 localization to podocyte foot processes in vivo and to cellular protrusions in vitro. Srgap1fl/fl*Six2Cre but not Srgap1fl/fl*hNPHS2Cre knockout mice developed an FSGS-like phenotype at adulthood. Podocyte-specific deletion of Srgap1 by hNPHS2Cre resulted in increased susceptibility to doxorubicin-induced nephropathy. Detailed analysis demonstrated significant effacement of podocyte foot processes. Furthermore, SRGAP1-knockout podocytes showed excessive protrusion formation and disinhibition of the small Rho GTPase machinery in vitro. Evaluation of a SRGAP1-dependent interactome revealed the involvement of SRGAP1 with protrusive and contractile actin networks. Analysis of glomerular biopsy specimens translated these findings toward human disease by displaying a pronounced redistribution of SRGAP1 in FSGS.

Conclusions: SRGAP1, a podocyte-specific RhoGAP, controls podocyte foot-process architecture by limiting the activity of protrusive, branched actin networks. Therefore, elucidating the complex regulatory small Rho GTPase affinity network points to novel targets for potentially precise intervention in glomerular diseases.

Keywords: Rho GTPase; RhoGAP; Srgap1; cell adhesion; cell signaling; focal segmental glomerulosclerosis; glomerular epithelial cells; nephrotic syndrome; podocyte.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actomyosin / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Surface Extensions / metabolism
  • Cell Surface Extensions / ultrastructure
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / deficiency
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / genetics
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / metabolism*
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / etiology
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / metabolism
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / pathology
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Biological
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / etiology
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / pathology
  • Podocytes / metabolism*
  • Podocytes / ultrastructure
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Proteome
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism
  • Pseudopodia / ultrastructure
  • Transcriptome
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Integrins
  • Proteome
  • SRGAP1 protein, human
  • Actomyosin
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins