Copy Number Variations Analysis Identifies QPRT as a Candidate Gene Associated With Susceptibility for Solitary Functioning Kidney

Front Genet. 2021 May 17;12:575830. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2021.575830. eCollection 2021.


Background: The lack of understanding of molecular pathologies of the solitary functioning kidney makes improving and strengthening the continuity of care between pediatric and adult nephrological patients difficult. Copy number variations (CNVs) account for a molecular cause of solitary functioning kidney, but characterization of the pathogenic genes remains challenging.

Methods: In our prospective cohort study, 99 fetuses clinically diagnosed with a solitary functioning kidney were enrolled and evaluated using chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA). The genetic drivers for the pathogenic CNVs were analyzed. We characterized QPRT localization in fetal kidneys using immunohistochemistry and its expression in adult kidneys using quantitative RT-PCR. Further, QPRT was knocked down using siRNA in human embryonic kidney (HEK293T) cells, and the cell cycle and proliferation were tested.

Results: Besides one Triple X syndrome and one Down syndrome, we identified a total of 45 CNVs out of 34 subjects. Among the 14 pathogenic CNVs, CNV 16p11.2 reached the highest number of records with the phenotype of kidney anomalies in the Decipher database. Among the 26 genes within the 16p11.2 region, as a key enzyme for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) biosynthesis, QPRT was distinctly localized in renal tubules but was barely observed in renal interstitial and glomeruli in fetal kidneys. The loss of QPRT prevented cells' efficient transition into S phase, affected cell-cycle progression, and abrogated proliferation of human embryonic kidney cells.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that QPRT is a candidate gene associated with susceptibility for solitary functioning kidney. The CNVs discovered in our study exhibit great potential for future applications in genetic counseling and pregnancy management.

Keywords: DNA copy number variations; cell cycle; pentosyltransferases; solitary kidney; urogenital abnormalities.